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Student’s quick thinking helped save a man's life

While on a recent rotation, Emily Rudisell decided to spend some downtime at a state park. Little did she know it would turn into one of the most memorable, yet harrowing experiences of her life.

Rudisell spent the month of June 2023 at her introductory pharmacy practice experience, also known as an IPPE, hospital rotation at Piedmont Medical Center in Rock Hill, South Carolina. One afternoon, after a particularly hectic day, she headed to Chester State Park to relax.

The park was mostly empty of visitors that day, save for a lone kayaker and his dog out on Lake View. Rudisell settled into her chair with a book for a while, then heard a noise that caught her attention. When she looked up, she saw the kayak overturned, the man and his dog flailing in the water.

I just knew I had to act, even though I don’t have any water lifesaving training, but I could do CPR if needed... 

Emily Rudisell

“I ran out to the boat dock, but the paddle boats and kayaks were locked up,” she says. “My phone was dead so I couldn’t call 9-1-1. I grabbed a life vest and swam out to him. While he hung onto the life vest, I tried to get the dog to shore but he wouldn’t leave his owner.”

After a bit of a struggle, Rudisell managed to get the kayak flipped back over and eventually helped the man and his dog back to shore. She checked on them both to make sure they had recovered from the ordeal before leaving the park.

“It didn’t dawn on me until after I had gotten back to my car to think about what might have happened had I not been there,” she says. “I just knew I had to act, even though I don’t have any water lifesaving training, but I could do CPR if needed. It was a surreal experience.”

It is an encounter that will stay with Rudisell as she completes her pharmacy training. A third-year student, she is busy with leadership roles in addition to her studies. She serves as president of Phi Lambda Sigma and as vice president of recruitment for the USC COP chapter of Kappa Epsilon. She was elected at this summer’s South Carolina Pharmacy Association’s conference as a junior board member after serving as a College of Pharmacy House of Delegates representative.

“Being at the COP has given me unique skill developments and numerous networking opportunities along with a growing confidence in my ability to work in health care,” she says. “I believe the leadership skills I have learned here played a role in helping save that man’s life.”

Topics: Pharm.D. Program, Student Experience

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