Pharmacist’s quick actions implementing CPR prompt popular grocery store to change their policy

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- A pharmacist, who is seven and a half months pregnant, sprang into action Thursday morning when an elderly man collapsed in an Overland Park Price Chopper. Apparently she was the only person in the entire store who knew CPR and she was able to keep the man alive until paramedics arrived.

The pharmacist, Melissa Gilkison, said it was a typical morning of filling prescriptions that quickly escalated into an emergency situation.

"I was kind of in shock," she said hours later.

She was working behind the counter at Auburn Pharmacy inside Price Chopper at 135th and Quivira when suddenly a customer ran over and said a man in his 70s had just collapsed in an aisle.

"They were asking if I was CPR certified," she said. "So I ran over to help."

Gilkison started doing chest compressions and was apparently the only person in the store at the time who was CPR-certified. It's a life-saving skill that is required of all Auburn pharmacists so they can perform vaccinations.

"Thirty minutes earlier and I wouldn't have been here," she said. "It was an adrenaline rush, scary. It was the first time I've ever had to put it to use, so it was a new experience for me to be so hands-on."

She was able to keep the man alive until paramedics arrived. But sadly, the man later died at the hospital. Gilkison said the man’s son later came by the pharmacy to thank her and to explain his father's pacemaker had failed.

"It was upsetting," she said. "But it was nice for him to come in, to know what happened and to know we did everything we could."

It's an experience that's also sparking change, as the Price Chopper now plans to offer all employees a class to get CPR-certified.

"It did motivate them," she said. "To see something happen like that and know that they really couldn't help, but they want to be able to."

Gilkison said she's still trying to process everything that happened, but she hopes by sharing her story; it will inspire more people to get CPR certified.

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