Just when your day seems boring...life can change in a heartbeat. Amanda Martorelli, a sophomore nursing student in the College of Nursing, found this out when she least expected it—on July 4th, a day she was initially feeling anything but independent. With no time to overthink, she was called upon to put into practice everything she had been taught in order to save the life of a man for whom some thought it was already too late.
East Hanover, New Jersey is a town where, according to Amanda Martorelli, “nothing really interesting happens.” Perhaps a typical response for any 19-year-old college student about their hometown, especially when home for the summer. Making it all the worse, she was on-call as an EMT for her local volunteer ambulance squad on Fourth of July weekend while all her friends were taking in the waves and sand of the Jersey shore. “I was really disappointed that I had to stay home all day while my friends were having fun. I love being an EMT, but honestly, I never got to do the really exciting stuff. Most calls were for elderly people who had minor chest pains or trouble breathing. I have a big interest in trauma situations. We have ongoing training for every possible scenario, but you never really get to do most of it.” She had resigned herself to just another day of much waiting—and not much doing—and then the call came.
A 33-year-old man was unconscious on Route 280. His car had hit the divider. By the time Amanda and her team had arrived the man was blue, and the first responders had already attempted to resuscitate him using the AED pads on his chest. It suddenly occurred to Amanda that she may be dealing with her first fatality on the job. Nevertheless, they continued to attempt diagnosing a man who was alone and who could not and would not respond in an attempt to save his life. A drug overdose? Amanda had only recently been certified to administer Narcan, a drug that blocks the effects of opioids and reverses an overdose. However, it would have no effect on a person who has not taken opioids, since there is no overdose to reverse. She had never actually done it on a real person, but her crew chief decided to give her the opportunity. Normally, it should only take approximately five minutes to take effect if the diagnosis is correct. It was well past that.
En route to Morristown Medical Center, navigating the shoulder of very heavy highway traffic, the team had just rendezvoused with the paramedics at the half-way point when the man finally jolted alive after twenty minutes. The cause of the accident was now quite apparent. After still more time, during which the man repeatedly denied any substance abuse, a very direct paramedic got him to admit that he had snorted two bags of heroin before getting behind the wheel and driving on one of the more challenging state highways. Once the paramedic admonished him for not only putting his own life in danger, but those of many others, he suggested that the man “thank the young woman behind you for saving your life.” At the hospital, the doctors were surprised that the man was still alive and also congratulated Amanda on a job very well done. “It made my day. Paramedics don’t always see EMT’s as equals. They and the doctors are our mentors. To have them acknowledge what I had done was an incredibly rewarding experience,” states Amanda.
The experience only reinforced Amanda’s determination to go further in the healthcare field. Beyond tending to her nursing studies or volunteering as an EMT, she serves as a nursing assistant for pediatrics at Morristown Medical Center. “I love kids. My intention is either to work with kids or in areas of trauma while accomplishing my goal of becoming a nurse practitioner.”
When asked why Amanda chose Seton Hall University’s College of Nursing, she admitted that at first she was hesitant. Her father, Michael Martorelli, has been with the University for 15 years as a facilities engineer, and she had already spent many of those years as part of the campus community, attending events and functions. “I really wanted something different, something new and exciting. But then I realized—why wouldn’t I want to be here? Everyone is so personable, they really care about me as an individual and making me the best I can be,” she states. “Not only do professors know my name, but so does the dean. I can send her an email about a problem and it’s solved directly.”
It can be said that everything Amanda Martorelli is learning in the classroom is certainly being put into practice now. Here’s to many more exciting days ahead for her—and making a difference in people’s lives.
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