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When the C in CPR Stands for Compassion

Years of emergency medical training kicked in instantly Wednesday morning for Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Nicholas Cataldo, 33, when a nearby man experienced a medical emergency as he and colleagues set up their exhibit booth at the annual WEST 2023 conference in San Diego.

But it wasn’t just knowing how to perform CPR and resuscitating the unconscious man that Cataldo thought was the most important of his actions—it was the compassion he displayed for the patient and the man’s worried colleagues who looked on, the Coast Guard maritime enforcement specialist said during a brief interview with SIGNAL Media.  

“You have to have compassion in life ... and provide comfort,” said Cataldo, who has served in the Coast Guard for 14 years.

Cataldo and his colleagues from Maritime Security Response Team-West were preparing their exhibit on the event show floor for the day’s visitors when his attention was drawn to a neighboring booth a few feet away. As an emergency medical technician with several years of military combat livesaving training, he responded immediately and began chest compressions when he didn’t feel a pulse. 

The patient was alert and talking as San Diego emergency medical personnel responded.

“I am just glad I was in the right place and the right time,” he said.