When it came time to save a life, the mechanic turned to the lessons of Michael Scott and Dwight Schrute.
Cross Scott, a tire shop technician, was test driving a customer’s vehicle on Jan. 11 when he saw a peculiar thing: a sedan pulled over, its hazard lights blinking, according to the Arizona Daily Star. He got out to inspect the vehicle.
There was a woman inside who appeared to be unconscious as the car crept forward, he told the newspaper. He stuck a rock under a wheel and used another to smash a window, and two women who pulled over dialed 911.
He checked for a pulse. Nothing. Help could be minutes away. He had to act.
But there was one problem. “I’ve never prepared myself for CPR in my life,” Scott, 21, told the Star. “I had no idea what I was doing.”
Well, that’s not entirely true. He had seen Season 5, episode 14 of “The Office.”
In a classic scene from the American TV series, Dunder Mifflin regional manager Michael Scott acknowledges his leadership style may have led to a heart attack, and, fearing future emergencies, he organizes CPR training for his employees. When he thrusts too fast on the practice dummy, the instructor tells him to sync his rhythm with a well-known disco hit.
“A good trick is to pump to the tune of ‘Stayin' Alive’ by the Bee Gees,” she explains, because at around 100 beats a minute, it matches the recommended tempo to perform chest compression on a patient.
The scene was seared into Cross Scott’s memory. He crawled onto the woman and began compressions while singing the song aloud, he told the Star, thinking of Steve Carell’s character hunched over the dummy and belting “Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.”
The woman, later identified as Clare, awoke after a minute and threw up, according to the Star. She was then taken to a hospital. Scott, recalling the words of a paramedic from the Tucson Fire Department, told the newspaper her fate could have been much different had he never intervened.
Scott and the Tucson Fire Department did not return requests for comment.
Of course, experts do not expect a passerby to shuffle their Spotify playlist to find the perfect beat while someone is in cardiac arrest but rather suggest songs many people know by, well, heart. The New York-Presbyterian Hospital crafted a list of popular songs that fit the criteria: “Just Dance” by Lady Gaga, “Rock This Town” by Stray Cats or “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé.
Scott appears to have done the right thing despite a lack of training, said Jonathan Epstein, the senior director of science at the American Red Cross training services.
The organization encourages people to take one-hour CPR courses to familiarize themselves with the process, which has proved to increase someone’s willingness to help in an emergency, he told The Washington Post.
But failing that?
“Chest compressions alone are a benefit to the patient,” he said. “You can’t hurt them if they’re not breathing, so all you can do is make them better.”
And popular culture moments have helped, Epstein said. He has used “The Office” episode in classes as a discussion point. “Stayin' Alive,” with 106 beats per minute, is a pretty good candidate for getting in the 100 to 120 sweet spot, he said.
Other televised moments have helped. Epstein, a former paramedic, once responded to a mother giving CPR to her unresponsive 5-month-old, which for children involves fingertips instead of hands and providing air by using your mouth to seal the child’s nose and mouth.
The form was perfect. How did she learn how to do that?
“Oprah,” she said, Epstein recalled.