‘I did what anyone could’ve done’: UMN student performs CPR elderly man

In mid-March, Jacob Erdman and other students performed CPR on a collapsed University of Minnesota student.

Jacob Erdman, a junior studying German and political science, poses for a portrait in Folwell Hall on Tuesday, April 30. In March, Erdman saved a mans life on campus. He was on his way home from class and stopped in Nicholson Hall to turn his music on when he noticed a group of people surrounding a man, Mike Vaughan, who was going into cardiac arrest. Erdman checked for a pulse, then located the nearest AED and administered CPR to Vaughan until paramedics arrived. Vaughan lived for two more weeks.

Tony Saunders

Jacob Erdman, a junior studying German and political science, poses for a portrait in Folwell Hall on Tuesday, April 30. In March, Erdman saved a man’s life on campus. He was on his way home from class and stopped in Nicholson Hall to turn his music on when he noticed a group of people surrounding a man, Mike Vaughan, who was going into cardiac arrest. Erdman checked for a pulse, then located the nearest AED and administered CPR to Vaughan until paramedics arrived. Vaughan lived for two more weeks.

Dylan Miettinen

University of Minnesota student Jacob Erdman almost didn’t pause in the lobby of Nicholson Hall to detangle his headphones one day in mid-March, but he did. He almost didn’t notice the Automated External Defibrillator near the entrance, but he did.

Because Erdman did, he was able to see Mike Vaughan, a 71-year-old man who took advantage of the University’s Senior Citizen Education Program, sit down on the steps to catch his breath. Vaughan then clutched his chest and collapsed onto the ground. He had just suffered a heart attack.

“It’s definitely not a pretty sight when you see someone who direly needs your help, but that’s even more of a reason to forget your feelings and help them,” Erdman said.

Erdman, along with two other students, called 911 and began administering CPR. Erdman, who learned to administer CPR through training for an on-campus security position, administered a shock from the AED.

According to Bob Vaughan, Mike Vaughn’s brother, the actions of Erdman and the other unidentified students gave Vaughan a greater chance of survival. Had the students not performed CPR, Mike Vaughan likely would’ve died before reaching a hospital. Vaughan’s family was given the chance to say their goodbyes, something that would not have happened had the three strangers not intervened.

“He was given every opportunity to survive by the students and faculty, that, not even knowing who he was, put forth all this effort to save his life,” Bob Vaughan said.

Meanwhile, Erdman continued going about his day as if nothing was out of the ordinary. He put in his detangled headphones and went to class, not even knowing the man’s name. Mike Vaughan remained in the hospital for two weeks before dying from complications.

Bob Vaughan said his brother had just finished lunch with friends and was walking to his history of religions class when he suffered his heart attack. Mike was compiling a large binder on the histories of religions, which he later hoped to turn into a published book.

According to Bob Vaughan, Mike Vaughan was an avid reader, documentary consumer and all-around intellectual. A graduate of the Carlson School of Management, Mike Vaughan was also a Vietnam veteran and served in law enforcement and the banking industry. On vacations, he often visited battlefields and places of historic significance. He once guided Bob Vaughan through Paris by memory to see a hotel Thomas Jefferson once occupied.

“We had many discussions but very few arguments. He was almost always right, so it was difficult to argue with him,” Bob Vaughan said. He added that he enjoyed his brother’s conversation on walks and over coffee.

With the help of a Minnesota Daily letter to the editor and the University of Minnesota Police Department, Vaughan’s family was able to get in touch with Erdman. They expressed their gratitude, but Erdman said he was just doing what needed to be done.

“I knew what I needed to do, others helped out and I just found the AED and got to work,” Erdman said. “I don’t know how else to think about it other than that.”

To Vaughan’s family, however, it was more than just a good deed.

“A lot of times, family members don’t get the chance to say goodbye, and that could’ve been the case for our family too,” Vaughan said. “What they did, trying to extend his life, allowed us and his family to say goodbye to him.”

Vaughan said he hopes others would act similarly for any person in a life-or-death situation.

“They’re more than just a body lying on the ground,” Vaughan said. “Everybody has a story — Mike had a story. It was a great one.”

Bob Vaughan still goes on walks. Though his brother is no longer by his side, he thinks of him often. The quiet on the walks will take some getting used to, he said.

Erdman said he was thankful he and the other students were there to help, adding, “I did what anyone could’ve done.”