I resuscitated a coworker, and people won’t stop talking about it

A reader writes:

Six months ago, my coworker Jane collapsed at her desk. She was unresponsive and had no pulse. I started performing CPR while a colleague called 911. Someone else brought the office defibrillator, and I used it to revive Jane. By the time the EMTs got there, Jane’s heart was beating and she was breathing again. She was in the hospital for a few days.

The experience was very emotional for me. There’s a huge difference between taking CPR classes and performing it in an emergency situation. It being a Friday, I took the rest of the day off.

When I returned Monday, my coworkers applauded when I entered the office. I’m uncomfortable being the center of attention so I kept my head down and stuck to business as usual, and eventually they took my cue and things went back to normal.

Jane and her husband sent me a gift basket at work. A *huge* gift basket. Embarrassingly big, with a handwritten thank-you card signed by her whole family. Coworkers saw it and started remarking on the episode again. I smiled and nodded but didn’t engage further. It felt weird, but they were entitled to their feelings.

Jane called to thank me. I asked how she was feeling and said I was glad she made it, that she was strong. She put her husband on the phone, and he thanked me. Then both her kids. I almost expected to hear from her dog, too.

When Jane returned to work, she brought me another gift. Now she seems to think we have a special bond and we’re supposed to be best friends. She jokes to colleagues that since I saved her life, she’s indebted to me forever!” Ha. I’m embarrassed when she calls attention to it. New hires hear about it and want to know the whole story. It’s been six months and people are still talking about it.

The kicker? I can’t stand Jane. I’ve never liked her. I’m happy I was able to help her through her medical crisis, and if it happened again, I wouldn’t hesitate to do the same thing. But Jane has always driven me up the wall with attention-seeking and over-chumminess, and now it’s So. Much. Worse.

Do you have any suggestions for what to say?

I think the first part of the response was unavoidable — if you save someone’s life with CPR, they’re going to be really grateful! And I’m not surprised your office applauded you because you did do something heroic in a really dire situation.

But it’s been six months, and it’s understandable that the “special bond” stuff is grating, especially since it’s coming from someone you can’t really stand. You’re entitled to want to save lives without having to perform an emotional bond with that person forever afterwards. (To be clear, Jane might feel an ongoing bond with you forever, and that’s okay! But you also need to be able to work in peace without being called upon to receive her gratitude over and over.)

Since Jane feels indebted to you, I wonder if you can enlist her in “helping” you with this. For example, could you say to her, “Just between you and me, I hate being the center of attention and I feel really awkward when people keep bringing it up. It would be such a favor to me if would you downplay it at work so it doesn’t keep getting discussed.” If she seems resistant to that, you could add, “Truly, if you do feel indebted at all, the kindest thing you could do is to help me tamp the attention down without making a big deal of it.”

That might tap into Jane’s desire to repay you and by framing it as needing her help, you might also tap into her desire to feel that bond.

That said, it sounds like what’s bugging you about Jane’s response is really just more of the same thing that’s always bugged you about Jane — she’s overly chummy, and this experience gave her a new pin to hang some of that on. So some of this is probably just the price of working with Jane. But I bet framing it as enlisting her help has a decent chance of cutting back on the worst of it.

Read an update to this letter

{ 252 comments… read them below }

  1. Justin*

    The juxtaposition of this one with Jane in the last one though.

    This does sound like a cringe comedy plot, but Alison’s suggestion is good – just use that energy of hers to accomplish what you need. She can’t exactly say no if you present it as helping you.

    1. RedinSC*

      But I wonder if this isn’t want Jane wants. If she’s attention-seeking, this BROUGHT BACK TO LIFE moment is really going to feed into that, and the LW is just collateral damage, really. It sounds like Jane likes the attention, and asking to down play this won’t fit into that personality trait.

      1. Always a Corncob*

        I had the same thought. If Jane is generally an attention-seeking person, she isn’t going to want to give up this big, dramatic story. LW might just have to distance themselves from it as much as they can, without relying on Jane to be part of that — which also means it may never disappear from the office lore as long as LW (or Jane) works there.

  2. EPLawyer*

    OP, Jane is entitled to her feelings. BUT SO ARE YOU. You can not like Jane and not want to be her new best friend. It’s okay to say “Jane I would have done the same for anyone. I’m glad you are still with us. Now about that TPS report.” In other words redirect back to work while also making it clear she’s not special.

    1. Momma Bear*

      I agree. Since some time has passed, pivot her to business as usual. It’s OK to want just a professional relationship.

    2. Teekanne aus Schokolade*

      I love this response! When I was a teen my dad did a liver donation to a guy in our town. The only issue is, the recipient’s entire family (including some of his sons who had been pretty creepy in the past), suddenly treated the event as a marriage of families. Dad did his best to keep everything as neutral as possible but very much had to give a second donation of himself to satisfy their gratitude hunger so they would stop stopping us on the street and thanking us for “giving us our dad back”. Solid neutral dialogues like the one by EPLawyer have wide-ranging benefits and would have been so valuable back then.

      1. Always a Corncob*

        “Gratitude hunger” is such a great phrase! It’s hard to push back on someone wanting to thank you, but there is definitely a line where the recipient is inappropriately expecting the giver to perform for them to feed their gratitude hunger.

  3. President Porpoise*

    Man, between this and the last letter, Jane has had a really rough time lately…

    1. EPLawyer*

      I was gonna say Jane is having a tough day here but felt that might not go over well considering what happened to the Jane in this previous letter. Here she recovered and seems to be fine.

    2. L. Bennett*

      Getting the sense that “Jane” is the “Kenny” of the office world right now….

    3. Retired Lady*

      This sounds like Jane in the show Drop Dead Diva, who died and came back to life in someone else’s body.

      1. nobadcats*

        Okay, I need to go to bed, but youse all are making me howl with laughter. My cat is annoyed.

  4. Addison DeWitt*

    I saved a life once (maybe). We were at Disney World and a toddler, maybe still a baby, starting choking on a peanut or a grape and the mom started to freak out and turned around and spotted me, male with kids who clearly survived toddlerhood, and for whatever reason decided I looked like Guy Who Knows Stuff, so as she panicked I suddenly had a kid thrust into my heads. I quickly thought about what I had read about doing the Heimlich on babies without breaking their rib cage. But I could also feel that the act of passing the child from one person to another had kind of dislodged the obstruction, I think I could feel it coming loose, and he started breathing properly. I swept his mouth with my finger—something I remembered from Red Cross training 30 years before—and got the thing out, and handed him back to Mom.

    Two things I remember about my immediate reaction. One, I found her gratitude a little embarrassing, partly because I felt I hadn’t really done much. Two, I noticed the father sitting there, utterly p—-d that she hadn’t relied on him but handed his kid to a responsible-looking stranger. Anyway, I was happy to be gone and vanish into the Disney World crowd as quickly as I could!

    1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

      Oh my. She didn’t trust the dad to be competent maybe? It makes me think about couples who mask their issues and distrust well, unless the stuff hits the fan and instinct (and desire to save the baby!) wins out.

      1. 1-800-BrownCow*

        My husband is a Medic and in a life or death emergency with our then 4 year old son, my husband went into a panic mode and all knowledge left his head. Luckily, we had just pulled into his work station and were being met with the on-duty crew who were prepared and they managed to save our son. I, in no way, would have ever blamed anything on my husband if things didn’t go okay. And while immediate instinct would be to turn to my Medic husband because of his credentials, I also don’t blame the mom for turning to a stranger who likely would be calmer than the actual parents in a scary situation. Honestly, a parent isn’t thinking to themselves “Do I think my spouse is competent enough to save our child?” when in panic mode. Their focus is to help save their child immediately, and if the stranger is the first person they see, it could end up being that person and not their spouse that they turn to.

        1. Filthy Vulgar Mercenary*

          All very good points! I was projecting a bit, having an image of my not-so-competent (but blustery and indignant) ex in my mind and ways that I went around him when something was genuinely important.

          1. 1-800-BrownCow*

            Yes, I can definitely see your thinking as well. I know all to well those that I would not trust to have the competence or know-how to handle even a minor emergency. Definitely telling when the person overlooks them for help in any situation. So it’s definitely possible that women knew her husband was the not the one to turn to for help. The p—-d look on the husband’s face does make one wonder!

        2. PhyllisB*

          Yes, that happened with my daughter and her husband. He’s an EMT, but when their 13 month old fell and busted her lip, he totally panicked. It’s hard to be objective and cool in a crisis when your own child is involved.

          1. Ellie*

            My husband is wonderful in a crisis, no matter who it is, but my parents are shocking. If my child was choking, and I was sitting with my parents, I’d be looking for the nearest, competent looking stranger.

        3. Drago Cucina*

          Good thinking. I wouldn’t place any weight on that mom’s crises response.

          My husband is a retired nurse anesthetist. He couldn’t watch any of our children receive immunizations. He would start to cry because they were in pain. Now, when they needed calming he was the perfect big bear to hold and cuddle them.

          His family has a running joke about not going places with him. There’s always a medical emergency and he’s the guy who responds. Go to the beach? He’s heli-vaced with someone who was injured. Fourteen-hour plane ride? He’s monitoring someone’s medical situation and preventing an emergency landing.

          1. allathian*

            Yeah, this. Vaccines are a total NBD to me, to the point that my son didn’t even cry when he got whatever shots you get when you’re 4 or 5. Often kids cry because they react to the emotional reaction of their caregiver, not because something hurts them. Maybe not so much with vaccines, but certainly when they fall over and hurt themselves a bit. A kid could be ready to shrug it off, but a parent going into panic mode makes them cry.

            I’ve had a few episodes of sleep paralysis and they were among the most frightening experiences I’ve ever had. But they also left me with a phobia of general anesthesia, to the point that when our son had to have ventilation tubes put into his ears (a total of 4 times, the last time he was 6 years old, he’s probably inherited my narrow eustachian tubes), my husband always took him to the medical center and I stayed at home because I didn’t want my anxiety to frighten him unnecessarily.

        4. Addison DeWitt*

          Yes, I suspect she just looked around and handed him to the first person she saw who seemed like he might have it together. But it was awkward…

        5. Lalchi*

          This is one of the reasons doctors aren’t allowed to care for family members- people just do not think/act the same when it’s their kid.

      2. Sylvia*

        Possibly. When my two year old stuffed a handful of peanuts into her mouth and then started choking, my ex argued with me that I was overreacting as she turned blue. (I was 8 1/2 months pregnant at the time and trying to get to her, but he was closer.) Fortunately my father-in-law grabbed her and did the Heimlich, probably saving her life.

        So yeah, I might’ve handed my toddler off to a stranger at Disney World too!

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          Jeebus. So glad he’s your ex now. Your kid was TURNING BLUE and your ex wasn’t, you know, a little concerned?????

        2. Ellie*

          My best friend kept insisting her child was fine, as we could clearly see she’d stepped into the deep end of the swimming pool, with her head a clear couple of inches under water. My husband just reached in and pulled her out, completely ignoring my friend. She still doesn’t understand what almost happened, and it was right in front of her.

      3. Grandma*

        It is common for people facing an OMG emergency, or just having faced one, to not make considered decisions. For example:
        *A woman with 5 unbelted children in her car was the last in a multi-car fender bender on the freeway. All was well, not a drop of blood anywhere, but she wandered around the car with a bit of side trim in her hand repeating, “Look at my car! Look at my car!”
        *I attended a community Christmas parade with my just turned 2 yr old and my 2 mo old. The 2 yr old was scared by the police motorcycles and sirens at the start of the parade and took off running up the parade route. I turned to the total stranger standing beside me, just the nearest body, and passed off my baby to chase the 2 yr old. Yikes!
        *A woman at DW panics when her little one chokes and chooses the nearest likely looking person to help even though Dad was somewhere nearby. It happens.

        1. Frieda*

          Honestly the baby-at-parade makes total sense. You’re very unlikely to accidentally hand your kid to someone who would harm them (especially in the hopefully short few minutes it took you to grab your toddler!) And in a public setting like that it seems like* the person would probably just stand there rather than try to kidnap your baby or something.

          * I know there’s a bunch of bystander research that suggests people are often pretty inadequate at responding to emergencies but “hold this baby for 120 seconds” seems like an easy thing to do.

          1. Midwest Manager*

            The key in getting actual action from bystanders is to assign them a specific task. If you’re the one administering CPR, instead of yelling to the group “Someone call 911!” you single a person out and say “You, call 911”. That removes the diffusion of responsibility that tends to happen in large groups, and instead delegates ownership of the task to a person – thereby making it more likely that it will get done timely.

            1. Chirpy*

              This. You have to give specific directions or people either freeze or assume someone else will do it. My lifeguard training actually went over this “bystander effect”.

            2. INFJedi*

              “You, call 911”

              I was thought to be very specific in pointing someone out while starting CPR, “You the man/woman in the blue shirt, call 112 (the European equivalent) and come back as soon as the call is done.”

              This was 2002/2003 and while mobile phones were already popular, like everyone in my class had one, the signal wasn’t always up to standard so people might have had to move to get a decent signal to reach the emergencies. So by saying (as in almost demanding, no way near asking) that they have to come back the one doing CPR knows that the call is actually made when that person comes back.

              BTW: perhaps interesting for Europeans reading this: There is an awesome app “112” that is really helpful to reach the emergencies.
              You can set it in that your location is automatically shared when using the app to make a call, and it automatically goes on speaker (easier to do CPR when you are the one helping; or to speak if you are stuck and can’t really put the phone near your ear and/or mouth as a person in need).

              I am sure that there is an equivalent app for the USA as well?

              1. *kalypso*

                One is being rolled out in Australia as well, and we have a specific subsystem for if you call and cannot verbally respond, but they still recommend giving address to the call centre responder in case something goes awry or the signal gets lost or the area is densely populated etc. as if they don’t get an address they default to the registered home address on the account, which can obviously not be where the phone and incident actually are.

                Even if you give an address they can also misread it or miss it – I was targeted a road rage incident and called from inside my vehicle – the ambulance turned up in the right spot, but the police went to my house. I then had to sit in my car on the side of the road for two hours after the ambos resolved the incident and got the people banging on my car to leave, because the police couldn’t find me and didn’t know they were on the wrong side of the city. And that was with repeatedly giving the operators exact directions, getting my dad to call in case they couldn’t understand me, getting the relay operator to check on the police response every half hour and just being like ‘are you serious can i go now you’re leaving a disabled person in a badly lit area in the dead of winter’ at them until they closed the call on their system.

          2. Trillian*

            I heard a BBC program talking about the development of the sixties lightweight, easy-folding pushchair (stroller) that could be folded one-handed by (I think) an aerospace engineer who watched the parents wrestle down his grandchild’s chair and thought ‘there’s got to be an easier way.’ The presenter described the sequence for getting on the bus with the old school pushchairs as “put the toddler on the bus — pass the baby to the next person in line — with both hands collapse and fold the pushchair — hoist the pushchair onto the bus — retrieve the baby — get on the bus in time to stop the toddler from escaping out the other door.”

        2. Jack Russell Terrier*

          I have an American friend who married a Syrian. According to him, it’s normal in Syrian to ask someone to hold the baby for a moment while you … get your wallet out to pay or something as everyday. Don’t think twice about it. They were both quite surprised by different norms.

        3. Elitist Semicolon*

          I have been the person who has unexpectedly been handed Someone’s Baby on multiple occasions and while it is weird in retrospect, there’s something about being told, “here, hold this*” that automatically made me reach out and take the kid and stand still without even thinking about it.

          (*Yes, the mom said “hold this,” which made it even more unexpected because I thought she was going to hand me her diaper bag. Nope. Armful of infant.)

          1. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

            Does anyone else think about that episode of The Nanny where she takes the kids on the subway and some random woman with a bunch of kids and a baby hands her the baby and they get separated? The mom thinks Fran kidnapped the baby and Fran thinks the baby was abandoned.

      4. Random Dice*

        Oh my that’s gotta be awkward, the conversation with her own kid’s dad who was right there.

    2. EPLawyer*

      Kids who clearly survived toddlerhood is hilarious.

      As for dad, Mom is panicking, she is looking around she might not have seen him. Why he didn’t step up no idea other than it probably happened so fast.

    3. Reality.Bites*

      It’s a small world, after all.

      (Sorry, I tried to resist and failed completely!

    4. Ex-prof*

      That the dad looked p___d off instead of relieved is probably why she turned to a stranger.

    5. nobadcats*

      It’s like that Eddie Izzard bit, “shall I perform the Heimlich gesture on you?”

    6. Flare*

      I think about all the instances in which my kids’ dad was not able to generate a rational response in a crisis (so many. SO many), and I 100% understand why a person would not pick their spouse to not freak out.

    7. Art*

      My macho dad is notorious in our family for his medical phobia. My mother would certainly not have passed me or my sibling to him!

  5. Colette*

    I would suggest saying something like “Jane, I’m glad I was able to help you. But performing CPR on someone I know was very upsetting for me, and I don’t like being reminded of it.”

    1. Flying squirrel*

      This is what I was thinking. This scenario happened in an old workplace and while the end result was the best imaginable (the woman recovered fully) my colleague was quite traumatized by her memory of the event itself. Not in a debilitating way, but if anyone ever mentioned it she got kind of a pained expression and recalled how stressful that day had been.

      1. 123456789101112 do do do*

        I agree with this. I was in a similar situation and the person I helped continuously wanted to thank me. She was also having troubles remembering the incident and so she kept asking me to retell how it happened. I had to nearly run away from her at one point because I was having to constantly relive it! Perhaps you could ask her to stop thanking you because it is affecting your ability to move on, emotionally. I hope she has the compassion to be able to see that you were deeply affected by the event as well.

    2. My Useless 2 Cents*

      I think OP might have better luck saying this with coworkers other than Jane.

      I don’t know what to do other than what Alison suggested with Jane but I’m skeptical that it will work. It sounds like Jane likes the attention the event still causes and will not understand not wanting to be the center of attention. I think this might be one of those things OP is just going to have to grin & bare until another “thing” takes it’s place. And unfortunately it was a big “thing” so may take a while.

      1. Colette*

        She can try with Jane, as well as the others. If Jane is legitimately grateful to the OP – and it sounds like she is – she should be receptive to being told that what she is doing is actually doing the opposite of what she wants to do.

    3. Rose*

      I think she could use his line on anyone but Jane. She would be telling Jane “you almost dying was really traumatic for ME.” Even if it’s true, it’s tone deaf. I wouldn’t center my own feelings when talking to someone else about their near death experience. I thought Allison’s script did a great job of explaining OPs feelings without making the entire experience all about them.

      1. Colette*

        But Jane’s not talking about almost dying, she’s talking about the OP saving her life. I realize they were the same incident, but, while Jane is entitled to talk about her experience as much as she wants, she’s not entitled to centre the OP’s experience, which is what she seems to be doing. And, if she’s doing it because she is truly grateful to the OP, she presumably would want to show her gratitude in a way that doesn’t annoy or harm the OP.

      2. Marna Nightingale*

        I think with a light touch, OP could pull it off if the “I don’t like being in the spotlight” line doesn’t work and they need to.

        “I am so glad I was there and able to help, but doing CPR on someone you know is a scary experience. Being pulled back to those moments can be hard, you know?”

      3. DisgruntledPelican*

        I actually don’t think it’s tone deaf. Sometimes when you’re the center of a trauma, you do need it to be pointed out to you that other people who were part of the experience also went through something traumatic.

      4. Patty Mayonnaise*

        I think this would be true if the incident was more recent, but IMO Jane has now had six months of her feelings and experience being centered. I think LW would be within their rights to point out they went through something too and it would be helpful to move on a bit.

    4. Delphine*

      I like the sentiment, not the framing. Even saying, “I was shaken up by the experience,” would be better than “performing CPR on someone I know was very upsetting.”

    5. Ally McBeal*

      This. I helped save someone’s life two years ago while out on a run and it was really, really upsetting. I was the first one on the scene and saw him topple over, so I called 911 and flagged down two people to do CPR (fortunately one of them happened to have formal CPR training) while I stayed on the line with the dispatcher and tried to find cross streets that would help them locate us on a relatively car-less street. The EMTs arrived and worked on him there for a bit before getting him stable enough to load into the ambulance, and… having only ever seen CPR on TV, it is nothing at all like seeing it in person. It is viscerally violent – I was shaking for hours afterward, and I wasn’t even the one doing chest compressions.

      1. Random Bystander*

        Yeah … IRL is incredibly violent. I still remember back in office days, I was in the break room which overlooked the helicopter pad. I could hear the intercom announcements, so I knew that the person arriving via helicopter was code blue. One of the nurses was on top of the actual gurney doing the compressions while someone else was dragging the crash cart up to the pad (the helicopter was uphill relative to the hospital entrance … not a huge slope, but enough that it made it harder to get the crash cart there. I have no idea if the person made it or not, but I certainly understand why someone (particularly when elderly) would opt to have a DNR on file.

        And in that case, at least it was someone who had signed up for the possibility of being involved.

  6. Grits McGee*

    I’m an awful person for laughing when I got to “The kicker? I can’t stand Jane,” right?

    1. General von Klinkerhoffen*

      I’m sure some people would think, “I wish I hadn’t bothered.”

      LW is a good person, and that never goes unpunished.

    2. Isabel Archer*

      You are definitely not alone. That was a snorter. I do wish Alison had titled this post “I resuscitated a co-worker who I can’t stand.”

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        Well no because it’s the fact that we only find this out at this point that makes it glorious.

      2. wordswords*

        I do think it’s useful in this order, though. Not just for the humor of the timing (though I too laughed), but more importantly, because I think OP is asking first for an outside reality check about the situation without that detail (“It’s reasonable to be overwhelmed and exhausted by this reaction, right? How can I politely shut this down months later without sounding like I’m slamming the door on Jane’s gratitude?”) and then providing it as an extra detail (“Plus, here’s why it’s all that extra bit grating! But obviously I don’t want any of my coworkers to realize that that’s part of my reaction…”).

    3. teapot analyst*

      I honestly didn’t get the big deal about it until I got to that line and then suddenly it all made sense.

      I would be exactly the same way – I would not hesitate to do what had to been done, even if I loathed the person, but being thanked constantly by someone I couldn’t stand would be SO ANNOYING.

  7. MsM*

    I wonder if another way to tap into Jane’s desire to feel connected to you through this in some way would be something along the lines of “of course I’m very glad and grateful I could be there to help, but it was a really intense experience – and while I appreciate that talking through it might be helpful for you, it honestly stresses me out a little to have to relive those memories every time I have to tell the story to someone new.” I just worry that if it’s framed in terms of “I don’t want the attention,” her reaction will be “nonsense; you deserve it!” – because from her perspective, how could you not want the attention?

    Alternatively, if you can’t trust her to respect the requests to downplay/taper off, is there someone you can redirect new employees to to answer questions for you? “Oh, there’s honestly not much more to tell…but John has all the details, too; you can ask him about it if you want.” Or redirect: “truly, my CPR instructors deserve the credit – are you certified? I’d be happy to recommend some local classes if you’re interested.”

    1. Barb*

      The trainer who successfully resuscitated Buffalo Bill Damar Hamlin on Monday Night Football this year spoke publicly for the first time at a college graduation recently.

      He said he wasn’t a hero, but he was ready.

      So yes, maybe make that your response, that more people should become ready.

      1. Susannah*

        I’m a HUGE Bills fan, could not sleep at all the night he collapsed and am just in awe of what the trainer did that day. I mean – I feel forever changed and I was neither the patient nor the trainer.
        None of that makes it OK for Jane to make LW feel uncomfortable. But this experiences shake all of us who are remotely touched by them, and it’s not like there’s a template for how to respond. I mean, if I were Jane’s husband or family (or dog!) I think it would torture me the rest of my life, wondering how I could pay back the person who saved my spouse/mom/treat-giver.

        And of course that doesn’t mean LW has to deal with this forever. Just that it’s awfully hard for Jane to go back to “normal.”

    2. Forrest Rhodes*

      Agree with everything MsM said, and especially with that last suggestion: gently steering Jane away from continually expressing gratitude to LW and more toward “paying it forward” by learning CPR herself.

  8. anonymous trainer*

    This is a tricky one. For dealing with people that aren’t Jane who want to hear all about it, I’d have a canned response for them. Be as undetailed and unemotional about it as you can, to helps shut down further conversation. Something like, “I’m glad I was able to recognize what was going on and Jane got the help she needed, but out of respect for Jane’s privacy this story really isn’t mine to tell. If you’re interested in learning CPR I’d recommend the classes the Red Cross gives at the YMCA, that’s where I did mine.” Deflecting to CPR training can help give people something actionable to do with their emotions around the situation.

    1. anonymous trainer*

      I also say this as someone who runs my region’s overdose prevention and reversal (naloxone) training program. Yes, I love hearing when people come back to me and tell me they successfully intervened to help someone in an overdose, because it’s feedback that training works! I train people all the time who say they could never actually respond if the situation presented itself, and they usually rise up to the challenge. But also, some people are, for lack of a better term…very performative about it? Like they need to tell everyone they know including all of their social media channels about how heroic they were when an incident happens. It’s really grating to listen to because yes, the person did the right thing, but we should normalize preventive education and being a Good Samaritan, not fawning over people. You’re definitely not doing that, but it feels like Jane is projecting this onto you.

    2. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      Tell them to lobby the workplace to sponsor a CPR class! Even if employees still have to pay for it, if the company offers an onsite class immediately after work hours – or, even better, during work hours – I bet they would get a lot of takers. And it can absolutely save lives.

      I am grateful that, as a teacher, I have to retake CPR and first aid every other year. I have fortunately never had to use it at school but because I always stick around for the optional infant CPR portion they add on at the end, I went into autopilot when my baby started choking on some broccoli at a Thai restaurant. I immediately grabbed her, inverted her, and did back blows just like we practiced with the doll, and out came the broccoli. (Then both she and I started crying, of course!)

      1. jingle*

        A definite yes to asking your office to sponsor a class! After a coworker collapsed (offsite, not during work hours) and was revived by a random passerby who administered CPR, even my extremely tight-fisted office was willing to bring someone in for a free class for everyone.

    3. Elspeth McGillicuddy*

      Oh, good idea. Being the Coworker who is Mildly but Annoyingly Evangelical About CPR (but really she does have a point, maybe I should get CPR training) would be an excellent way to stop being the Heroic Lifesaving Coworker. Especially because being mildly annoying on a particular topic is a great way to get people to stop bringing it up around you. Plus it gives OP something to talk about instead of having to be gracefully modest the whole time.

      1. ShinyPenny (the other one)*

        Sneaky! I love this!
        It’s kind of another example of the Miss Manner’s adage that you never actually have to answer the question you are asked:
        Q: “Tell me all the Juicy Details about Jane’s Drama!!!”
        A: “Oh here’s how I took a CPR class, and here’s how you could, too.”
        Bonus points if A is artfully unrewarding, lol.

    4. bighairnoheart*

      I love the idea of the letter writer turning future inquiries/retellings of the event into an advertisement for CPR training. I’d imagine some people will be genuinely interested in getting CPR-certified, so you’ll distract them by talking about that instead. And probably most people will just lose interest once the heroic story turns into a call to action. Either way, it feels like a very natural way to change the topic.

  9. grubs*

    I think that Alison’s idea of enlisting Jane is genius. I think it will be very effective at taking care of half the problem – getting the attention away from OP!

    Maybe it’ll get Jane off OP’s back a little too, or at least change things enough to reassess in a few weeks.

    But I have to admit that the line “I can’t stand Jane. I’ve never liked her.” caused me to immediately choke on unexpected laughter. What a weird situation to be in, and I hope it smooths out for OP soon.

  10. MmeJennyfair*

    That’s truly heroic action, OP. In an emergency, most people lose their heads, so it’s very impressive that you kept yours. That said, I hope that things get more comfortable for you!

    I have the opposite scenario. Not me, but an ex- who did the same thing, performing CPR and using a defibrillator on a colleague who had a heart attack in the office. Ex continued CPR until EMTs arrived and took over, the coworker was in the hospital for several days and then took temporary medical leave, Ex was congratulated by other colleagues and management, and ended up receiving an award in a big ceremony hosted by the American Heart Association.
    But what was so odd was that when the revived colleague returned to the office… crickets. Nothing was ever said. No awkward email, nothing. Even when they passed each other in the hallway, nothing: no thanks, no acknowledgement – absolutely nothing. It was like the guy had NO IDEA – or maybe was so mortified that he never spoke of it.
    This still confuses the hell out of me.
    Like, WTF, almost-dead guy!?

    1. Jaunty Banana Hat I*

      I mean, the two of them might have had a conversation the rest of the office doesn’t know about?

      1. MmeJennyfair*

        He definitely would have come home and told me – he was just as dumbfounded as I was!

    2. not a hippo*

      Is it possible the coworker at first didn’t know who saved him (I’ve had a few medical emergencies where I didn’t know what was going on or who was helping me) and then by the time he found out, it felt like too much time had passed to say anything?

      Or maybe he’s just awkward. I can see my dad (knock wood this never happens) feeling so embarrassed about having a medical emergency in public that he’d never want to speak of it again.

      1. UKDancer*

        Yes this so much. My father is the same. He had an organ transplant a few years ago and he wrote a letter to the donors family to thank them. He left it with the doctors if the family wanted to read it but he absolutely did not want them to know him or meet him because he felt it would be too awkward to know what to say. Their relative is dead (it’s not the type of donation people survive) and nothing father can say will change that.

        His preference is to do good with the life has to honour the donor rather than trying to talk about the situation.

        Owing your life to someone can be deeply awkward and people don’t know what to say.

    3. marvin*

      I think it makes sense. It was probably a traumatic experience for the colleague, and it may have been distressing for him to think about what happened while he was unconscious. Maybe pretending it never happened was the best he was able to do to cope with it.

      In a similar way, maybe Jane’s extremely grateful reaction is her own way of trying to get through a painful time. And avoiding the spotlight is the letter writer’s. These events can really take an emotional toll on everyone involved, so it’s a good time to practice showing some grace to one another.

      1. Despachito*

        This is a bit of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation.

        It must be very difficult to find the right measure of what to do and how to behave after someone saves your life. It is (thankfully) a very rare situation and we do not have clear social norms how to behave.

        I suppose I would be very grateful and at the same time uncertain how I should react. Give the saver a gift as Jane did? But what should it be not to look cheap (given that human life is priceless) and at the same time not to embarrass the saver? How to behave towards him afterwards (I know the right answer likely is “as normally as possible”, but what if we have some conflict afterwards)?

        I hope I will never experience this but if I do, I assume there would be a LOT of emotional work for me to do (and possibly for the saver on their part as well).

    4. BatManDan*

      Along those lines, 8 of us out to Sunday lunch after church. 4 down each side of the table. The woman two-to-the-left of my wife (wife is an RN) started choking; my wife stood up, performed the Heimlich maneuver, and we all sat back down and resumed eating after a few brief “are you okay? are you SURE you’re okay?” queries. Not sure anyone ever mentioned it again. At least no one has brought it up in public / at church since then; I expect the woman has probably thanked my wife via text or phone call since then. But, my wife views it as something any nurse / decent person would have done, and isn’t really looking for any thanks or comments.

    5. teapot analyst*

      ok but this is so funny.

      Maybe they come, like Danny from Schmicago, from a family of cold birthday check writers.

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      I cackled at that, couldn’t help it. It prolongs the glory of the revelation that OP can’t stand her.

    2. I feel for Jane*

      I had the same thought. I have no doubt this was a traumatic and very emotional situation for everyone, but Jane’s and her family’s reaction doesn’t seem at all out of line. LW literally saved someone’s life, of course she is going out of her way to recognize and thank them. It also doesn’t feel particularly off for Jane to talk about their connection and bond or for people to keep bringing it up. I’ve worked places where much more mundane events are remembered and talked about for years.

      Honestly, LW may have to come to terms with Jane always having deep feelings over this and expressing those feelings. On a human level I too hope that Jane never finds how the person who saved her life really feels about her.

      1. allathian*

        Nah, she’s probably completely oblivious to the fact that the LW doesn’t like her.

        I’m not sure the LW can do much more than simply deflect to work-related issues every time Jane approaches her, and never contacting her herself unless she needs something work-related from her.

        I must say that in this case I feel for the LW more than for Jane. I don’t particularly enjoy being the center of attention, either. I do accept that it’s the price we pay for recognition, and I do enjoy it when the value of my work (or my efforts to maintain a friendship, say) are recognized, but Jane’s behavior would grate on my nerves, too.

        I’m not sure for how long I’d be able to tolerate that sort of behavior before bursting out with something like “You know what, I’ve had it up to here with all the reminders about how I saved your life. I wish you’d stop adding fuel to the fire before I *really* start regretting that I did it. I don’t like you and I definitely don’t want to be your friend, so please just leave me alone unless you need something from me for work!” That wouldn’t be either professional or prudent, though. A better approach would be to say something like “I understand that someone saving your life is a big deal to you, but I wish you’d stop making such a fuss about me doing it because I would’ve done the same for anyone.”

        I suspect that the LW would like Jane better if she kept her distance a bit.

  11. MCMonkeyBean*

    The solution is obvious: put yourself in mortal peril so Jane can save you and be even!

    (jk if that was not clear lol)

    1. Slow Gin Lizz*

      Hahaha, Star Trek Lower Decks had a plotline about this where two characters kept arguing with each other about who owed who their life. “But you saved me on Delos IV so I owe you one.” “But you already repaid that with the time you saved me at the Titan mining colony and then you saved me again on Pluto so I owe you….” It was hilarious.

      1. KTB2*

        Oh god, that was a recurring plotline on Outlander and one of the reasons I quit watching the show… ugh

        1. Slow Gin Lizz*

          I can see how it would get annoying. This was just one episode and the show is a comedy so it was played for laughs. Quite well, I might add.

        2. I'm Just Here For The Cats!*

          Are you talking about Outlander, the STARS show with the time-traveling nurse who goes back to 1700s Scotland? Because I don’t really remember that as a recurring plotline. At least not a major one.

  12. RoseBud*

    Alison, I have so much admiration for your ability to come up with practical, effective solutions that manage to solve a problem without alienating anyone. As a neurodivergent person it is something I struggle with- what I consider to be neutral tone and language are often interpreted differently by others. Thank you for years of good advice.

  13. Guest*

    I like Alison’s advice, but I’m not sure someone as overbearing as Jane will hear LW’s pleas to knock off the boatloads of attention. I hope LW doesn’t have to speak to a manager or HR.

    1. Yikes*

      Speaking to HR because someone is grateful you saved their life (even if that gratitude takes an unwelcome or overbearing turn) seems extreme. The LW not liking Jane prior to the event doesn’t equal Jane being an all around horrible person who shouldn’t express gratitude for her life being saved.

  14. jax*

    I’m not sure this is going to work. Jane wants the attention on herself, this is a great story to keep the attention on her and OP is an intricate part of that story. Jane doesn’t want to feel like she is helping OP out; Jane wants every one in the office focused on her.

    1. learnedthehardway*

      Perhaps the OP can just say “EVERYONE ought to take CPR classes!! That’s all it really was!!” whenever Jane brings it up.

      Promotes CPR training, and also minimizes the exceptionality of the whole thing.

    2. Three Flowers*

      I’m inclined to give a little more grace to Jane. She is clearly very extroverted (which involves some desire for limelight, but not *only* desire for limelight). OP sounds fairly introverted. They are both processing a traumatic experience that they remember (or don’t) very differently. Jane is ecstatic to be alive. She doesn’t have to remember the part OP does, when she was, y’know, dead, and everyone was terrified. Every time someone brings this up, OP has to go through that again…but Jane probably just remembers waking up in the hospital with relieved family telling her that her badass coworker saved her life. Everybody’s feelings here are complex and valid…but they need to find common ground that’s not just about the feel-good story as Jane and the bystanders see it.

      Alison’s approach of enlisting Jane is great—it lets her feel like she can do something without being effusive.

        1. Marna Nightingale*

          Also FWIW I think to a great extent Jane is giving you what she — an extrovert for whom praise and attention are rewarding — would like to receive if SHE saved a life.

          She may turn out to be much more receptive than we expect to you explaining what you would like instead.

    3. Delphine*

      Not everything is a calculated attempt to grab attention. Even attention-seekers can be sincerely grateful to someone who saved their life.

      1. wordswords*

        Agreed. And it’s entirely possible to be someone who comes across as attention-seeking and overly chummy to one person, and friendly and charming and extroverted to someone else, without anyone in the situation being a terrible person or manipulatively calculating. Just clashing styles.

        Jane could be making a calculated attempt to grab attention, sure. But she could also just be legitimately grateful, kind of overbearing, and accidentally piling on irritation by giving OP the gushing attention that she would want in their shoes. It’s impossible to tell from the info we have, and may be impossible for OP to tell either. Alison’s approach is probably the best one either way, though.

        1. House On The Rock*

          Thank you for summing this up so well. It’s weird how little grace is being given to Jane in the comments. As someone up-thread said, I really hope Jane never sees this. I’ve had a number of coworkers who were different levels of annoying, from mild to full on BEC, but I would never begrudge any of them deep emotion over someone saving their life. Not to say the LW’s emotions are not also complex and valid, they absolutely are, but the Commenter Fan Fiction over Jane Is Using Her Own Near Death Experience Purely For Attention feels so unkind.

          1. allathian*

            The comments about Jane may be slightly unkind because she comes across as somewhat self-centered and lacking in empathy. Not necessarily manipulative, but totally oblivious to the fact that the LW has had enough already.

            Maybe just telling Jane something like “You know, every time I get a reminder about saving your life, the first thing I remember is looking at your lifeless body on the floor.” If Jane has any empathy for the LW at all, she’ll tone it down. Maybe it’ll never go away completely, but less is more in this case.

  15. HannahS*

    Once you’ve used Alison’s script with Jane, it’s reasonable to talk to other coworkers when it comes up–next time new hires ask about it, or someone makes a comment, or even if Jane forgets (or “forgets”) and brings it up again in front of other people, to say something like,
    “You know, I realize that this seems like a fun story, but dealing with a medical emergency at work was not fun and I’d like to stop talking about it.” And then immediately change the subject.

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Yes, said in a rather strained voice, like you’re choking emotion back, excellent suggestion.

      1. HannahS*

        I can’t tell if you’re joking or not! I don’t think that’s necessary if that’s not how the OP feels, though it would certainly work. Communicating some annoyance would also get the job done. So would saying it flatly. It all falls under the spectrum of “returning the awkward to sender.”

  16. Garlic Microwaver*

    Unpopular opinion, but I think OP is coming across as a bit mean spirited. It’s fine not to like Jane, but at least be somewhat touched when her family calls to thank you. The sarcastic comment about the dog was a bit… much. Perhaps I’d have a different opinion if the, “I can’t stand her” caveat were upfront. My suggestion- don’t spend capital trying to calm it down. It’s bound to fizzle out. Stick to boring responses, minimize eye contact, head nods or comments like, “No big deal. Sorry, gotta get back to work.”

    1. Three Flowers*

      Disagree. OP relives a traumatic experience—one that fortunately turned out well, but still traumatic—every time somebody brings this up. Jane rightly revels in being alive, but the central event for OP is the part where Jane was *dead*. I think Jane deserves understanding here, and OP also deserves not to have adrenaline spikes every time someone brings it up.

    2. Colette*

      I would be probably more annoyed than touched if the family of someone who I assisted during a medical emergency called me to thank me. I’d recognize that it was important and wonderful for them, but performing CPR is stressful and upsetting, and no one does it because they want a thank you from strangers. A phone call would also feel like they wanted some sort of reaction in return – it’s a 2-way communication method, and, while they were prepared for it, the OP wasn’t.

      1. Happy meal with extra happy*

        I think this is a bit extreme. Getting upset by children thanking you for saving their mother’s life? Like, I get phone dislike, ok, but, are we really that disconnected from others that we can’t deal with some discomfort when the family member calling would otherwise be at a funeral???

        (Note to the comment section – I’m responding to this particular comment, not the pattern and practice of Jane’s actions over six months.)

        1. subtle*

          I think it’s unfair to label people as “disconnected” just because their reactions differ from someone else’s.

        2. Saved my coworker... who I can't stand*

          Hi, OP here. The phone call was all kinds of weird that I didn’t go into in the letter. A simple thank you would have been okay. This was 90 minutes of relived trauma, and pretty much in line with Jane’s behavior since.

          1. I wouldn't save my Jane*

            90 minutes? That would be excessive even if you did want some attention to your good deed! We got some commenters here who are definitely projecting themselves onto Jane and not taking into account that you are also allowed to feel all kinds of ways, and to have boundaries regarding this situation.

            (Username is because “my” Jane at work is a guy who pinned me against a wall [before we became co-workers] until I panicked, solely because he thought it was funny. I’ll freely admit I’m not a “good enough” person to assist him if I found him in crisis. I’m far from the only person he’s assaulted.)

            1. allathian*

              Depends on where you are. I wouldn’t take the risk of getting a fine for failing to help a person in mortal danger, or for potentially going to jail if they died. The very least I’d do would be to call emergency services.

              That said, I don’t blame you at all for having those thoughts, what a horrible person your “Jane” was.

    3. bighairnoheart*

      If OP was writing in after two weeks, I’d agree with your advice. But half a year is a loooong time to put up with over-the-top behavior, and the ongoing nature of it is probably why you’re reading that mean-spiritedness into OP. The longer an undesirable situation goes on, the more aggravated the average person will be still having to put up with it.

      At this point, she has been doing what you suggested for several months without it fizzing out. I think it’s more than reasonable now to say, okay this is ridiculous, time for a new tactic.

    4. Aurion*

      As a trained volunteer first responder, I disagree. Arresting patients can be traumatic for the responders; it’s why my organization has debriefs and, in the event of rough calls like an arrest, we will have dedicated people calling in to check up on us the responders in the days/weeks after. Obviously Jane and Jane’s family aren’t in the role of providing support for OP, but on the other hand OP can very well appreciate Jane’s family’s gratitude and still not want to be reminded of this experience repeatedly.

    5. Meep*

      Or ya know, some people have trauma associated with praise and having another triggering incident on top and it be a person you didn’t really like to begin with ON TOP of it is painful.

    6. Nina*

      So, saving a coworker’s life, even one you don’t like, entails someone at your workplace who you see every day being in immediate danger of death. BTDT. Shit’s traumatic. People get to respond how they respond, and if you’re already at BEC with someone, saving their life isn’t necessarily going to change that.

    7. Aquamarine*

      OP is among friends here and can say how she feels. I think she was just expressing how awkward things felt. I mean, each of the kids got on individually to express their thanks? Of course it was uncomfortable for someone dislikes attention.

    8. fhqwhgads*

      If OP were telling us this a week or two after this happened, maybe. But remember, OP is telling us this now through the lens of having this topic constantly brought up for six months. Even though that particular part of the story was shortly after the event, everything is now colored by the frustration of the office’s inability to let it drop as a topic of conversation.

    9. OK then*

      I don’t think it’s meanspirited. I think it is an honest attempt to explain uncomfortable feelings. They didn’t say it 100% right? OK. Noted.

      Not liking Jane is a big deal. LW would have provided CPR to “anyone.” This time it was to Jane who LW doesn’t like. Now Jane. Won’t. Stop. Being. Around. The. LW. And. Now. The. Family. Has. Contacted. Them. Too. It’s a lot to process at once.

      Everyone can offer fanfic, so let me offer mine, Jane has no idea that LW didn’t like her before the incident.

    10. baby pterodactyl*

      FWIW I totally agree with you. I know OP doesn’t like Jane, but some of those comments were pretty harsh (and didn’t come across as traumatized, just annoyed at Jane for being grateful she’s still alive?). As someone said above, I really really really hope she never finds this letter.

      1. marvin*

        I mean, trauma can look pretty different to different people. Gallows humour is a pretty common response to extreme situations, and this was a lot milder than that. It sounds like basically Jane and the letter writer are two extremely different personalities who were thrown into this emergency together, and the friction between them is extra charged now because emotions are high all around. I don’t think anyone is really in the wrong here, it’s just an unfortunate mismatch.

    11. Irish Teacher*

      I suspect it’s just frustration from a really awkward situation. It sounds like Jane already wanted a closer relationship than the LW did or was possibly just more extroverted and now she has yet another reason to want a closer relationship and the LW is in a position where it’s hard to back away without seeming rude or like she is putting Jane under more of a compliment.

      And that’s even without the traumatic element to the whole thing.

    12. Saved my coworker... who I can't stand*

      OP here. I understand where you’re coming from about the “and her dog” comment on the phone call. If it helps lend context, this phone call lasted over 90 minutes. Her young (I think they’re both preschool age) children were each separately put on the phone and prompted to ask to hear the story of how I saved their mom. It was seriously uncomfortable.

      I hope you’re right it will fizzle out. Thank you for your suggestion.

      1. Sassenach*

        OMG, that was too much….and I was feeling Team Jane until you posted this comment. Too much….

      2. Kit*

        Oh no! That’s much worse than the ‘thank you!’ (possibly via heavy prompting for shy/young kids) that I think a lot of us were assuming – being forced to recount it, twice, to young kids who you have never met, have no context for, and presumably are trying to shield from your own (extremely valid) emotional response to the whole thing? I’d be shuddering too.

      3. Aquamarine*

        I thought the dog comment added some levity, for what it’s worth.

        But, wow… that is a lot. Phone calls with preschoolers you don’t know can be awkward enough, but this sounds awful!

      4. Felis alwayshungryis*

        My God, preschoolers? I was imagining adult children. That’s way too much. Little kids like that DO NOT need to know the details of how they almost lost their mum.

      5. Victoria Everglot*

        Yikes, having to tell preschoolers you don’t even know is rough, because now you have to relive your trauma but in a way that won’t inadvertently traumatize the kids. I wouldn’t even know what age appropriate language to use, especially after *90* minutes.

        1. Cochrane*

          Oh, you know those poor kids have heard the “I shit my pants, saw God, and came to with OP blowing into my mouth!” story so much, they can recite it from memory.

      6. House On The Rock*

        I’m so sorry, that sounds awful. But thank you for the additional context.

        I think some people here are more reacting to the reactions than to your original question…especially commenters who seem to be taking out their own biases on Jane and projecting their own experiences with annoying coworkers on you.

        Best of luck, I hope that the situation evens out!

    13. Art*

      I definitely identified with Jane more in this scenario. I had a medical emergency a couple of years back and feel deeply indebted to the medical team that saved my life, even though I know they were just doing their job! I sent cards and gifts after the event, and also send Christmas cards to a couple of them. It it impossible to underestimate the feeling of knowing you are only breathing today due to the specific actions of a certain person.

  17. Ana Gram*

    I’m an EMT and I’ve met a few patients over the years who have been really effusive in their gratitude and it’s awkward and embarrassing. I get it- I saved your life and it’s, well, life changing! But one meeting and thank you is enough…and some of them just keep popping by.

    I’ve found that directing their enthusiasm and need to do something into CPR classes is pretty successful. Encourage them to get certified and to bring their friends, etc. I think this approach might work with Jane- maybe she can help set up a class at work, or talk to a community group about her experience, or start volunteering for a health organization. It would fill her yearning to show her appreciation and direct her away from the OP!

    1. Peanut Hamper*

      I was thinking this, so I’m glad an actual EMT has mentioned it. Encouraging Jane to learn CPR so she can possibly eventually “pay it forward” might turn her attention in another direction.

      1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

        She needs to be put in charge of setting up some after-work classes for everyone!

    2. Be Gneiss*

      Yes, a colleague was in a similar situation (as a non-EMT, just a regular person with CPR training), and has redirected all attention directed their way back to “Everyone should be CPR certified!”

      1. Nina*

        I used to work in a very remote area (nearest ambulance multiple hours away) and the company paid to have everyone on site put through the lowest level of EMT training. Enough to keep someone alive for those multiple hours. I’m not saying everyone or every workplace needs to get that intense, but the more people are CPR trained, the more options there are in an emergency, the more likely there are trained people to swap in as the first responders get tired, and the more likely that cardiac arrest patient is to survive.

        1. WS*

          Yes, I was involved with a CPR situation at work (a customer, not a co-worker) and even though the ambulance only took 12 minutes, we were absolutely exhausted even working as a team of 4. Another co-worker who had a shoulder injury and couldn’t physically do compressions was there doing the counting. It was really intense. I don’t think any one of us would have been able to do it for the whole time, but we all had the training so we could rotate.

    3. MEH Squared*

      Thank you for your perspective. I had my life saved by EMTs (including CPR, defib, and an EpiPen shot when I had two cardiac arrests), and I would like to thank them, but have always felt odd about it because they were just doing their job and I’m sure it was traumatic for them, too.

      If it had been a coworker who saved me, I don’t know what I would have done because it’s such an amazing gift to have been given. I don’t think I would have gone on and on about it because it’s not my style, but I’m not sure. For the first year after I got out of the hospital, I was grateful every morning for another bonus day.

      To the OP, I don’t know exactly what to tell you because I probably would feel an unending gratitude for you, but I would not bring it up if you seemed uncomfortable with it. I like the idea of suggesting she take CPR classes instead of constantly thanking you or another way of Jane passing it forward. You had a traumatic experience as well and deserve to heal from it in your own way.

      1. *kalypso*

        If you haven’t thanked them yet and still want to, send a letter to the organisation or the house that the EMTs are based out of if you know it. They can choose whether to read it or not – a lot of the time EMTs don’t know what happens after they drop people off at the hospital and it can be validating to know they directly saved someone, but a letter is something they can interact with in their own way or can be handled through the organisation more generally if need be. If you have the means, a donation to the organisation with a thank you note is fine as well, noting that some orgs aren’t set up for it and those that are tend to have information on how to donate or bequeath on their website.

        EMTs also tend to have some, not necessarily sufficient, but some support for the direct and indirect trauma involved in their work and part of that is rooted in holding on to the wins. Every emergency responder I know is buoyed when they get to an incident and nobody’s dead or dying, and while attitude towards actual rewards and prizes/awards for doing their job varies (some people thrive on it, some prefer not to have outward or public-facing acknowledgement), knowing that they did save someone and their job does matter can be a bit of a light when there’s been a big incident or a bad run. The issue in the LWs case is that they’re repeatedly being forced to publically acknowledge it by the people involved and it’s disrupting their processing and retraumatising them, especially the case since it’s an isolated incident and not their actual job. In your case, a single small contact can resolve your ‘I would like to thank them’ impulse and an indirect contact gives the EMTs control and choice of how they take that. You wouldn’t be forcing them to relive a traumatic moment and they would not have to be ‘on’ for your gratification.

        Like, I was in a car accident in my 20s. The fire department turned up and gave me a blanket while the ambulance was trying to find us (country roads, directions from someone not local – they told everyone 20km and not 40km, and the fireys went 20km and started a search in one direction after confirming with my mum that I was really missing) and we returned the blanket to the station on training night with a thank you card. I am told they just went ‘thanks, we’re just glad all we had to do was clean up the glass’ and that was that.

      2. Ana Gram*

        Glad you’re doing well! In fairness, it’s probably not traumatic for the EMS crews who helped you. For us, it’s just another call- just a more satisfying one to know we actually saved someone.

        If you want to reach out, a card or letter is always appreciated. At my station, those cards would go on a bulletin board in the day room (our kitchen/living room/main gathering area) and would stay up for literal years. After calls that don’t go so well, it’s neat to be able to read a note from someone we helped.

    4. WoodswomanWrites*

      A friend of mine is a Wilderness EMT. When he was teaching a class for that, someone nearby went into cardiac arrest. At first his students thought it was a practice scenario. My friend and his co-teacher revived the person, an ambulance took him to the hospital, and he fully recovered. My friend says the individual sends a short thank you email once a year on the anniversary of the event, which they appreciate that.

      But my friend is a professional and it was a stranger. Someone you see at work all the time bringing it up over and over? I completely respect the letter writer saying that it’s re-traumatizing for them months after the fact. They know what they need and they’re the sole authority on that.

    5. Filicophyta*

      Yes, this is great. The workplace may even sponsor some people to take a course so there is someone qualified on every shift.

  18. H.Regalis*

    Oof, I can see why both Jane and OP are reacting the way they have. Someone saving your life is a huge deal! Having someone you don’t like deciding that you’re bonded for life will definitely set off a cat-go-hide-in-couch response! I agree with the suggestions to enlist Jane to get other people off your back.

    If you think people will walk all over your saying that you don’t want to be the center of attention, you could potentially frame it as, “This was a harrowing experience and I’m so glad she’s okay, but I also don’t want to relive this every time someone wants to hear the story.”

    Also – Yaaaaaay, CPR classes! I got trained on how to use an AED as part of work. If you’re able to take anything resembling BLS certification, I recommend it. Being able to do things like use an AED, tie a tourniquet, and administer Narcan can quite literally save someone’s life.

  19. Harper the Other One*

    People really don’t know how to handle any sort of first aid/emergency help from someone they’re not expecting it to come from! I took lifesaving courses in my early teens and when I was at a summer camp, a girl there had an asthma attack at lunch. Literally all I did was get her to sit down in the shade, ask her if she had an inhaler, and send someone to get one of the councillors to call for help. The camp made a huge deal about my “selfless, quick thinking action” and I remember being quite embarrassed because I knew that was so little to do.

    I second the person above who suggests telling Jane that performing CPR was upsetting – they now actively warn you about that in many first aid courses – and enlisting her in helping you avoid the discomfort. I imagine part of the problem is that it really DOESN’T feel like you can do enough for someone who saved your life but this will hopefully give her something concrete that you specifically requested.

  20. Cat Tree*

    My suggestion requires more emotional labor from you than you should need to do, but might be worth a try. People subconsciously don’t like to feel indebted to others. You could try to “even the score” by asking a big favor from Jane. Of course nothing will be a big a saving her life, but it doesn’t have to be. Asking her to quash thy conversation might be enough. But maybe try to think of one but favor to ask her.

  21. Turanga Leela*

    I understand your discomfort and I also really understand Jane’s reaction! The huge gift basket and grateful phone calls seem more or less normal for this situation—that’s what I would do if a coworker saved my life or my partner’s. There’s no way to adequately express your gratitude, so you do the things that people do to say “thanks,” and it still feels like they’re not enough because OF COURSE they’re not, so you keep saying more things. And I understand why this has become an office story too, because it’s an unusual, momentous thing. (My office is still telling stories about what people wore for Halloween 5+ years ago.)

    Alison’s script might help, and so might the suggestion upthread about saying that this was honestly kind of traumatic for you and not something you want to keep talking about.

  22. Lacey*

    I have a sibling who is a Jane and I will say that Alison’s advice about enlisting her help will definitely work for a bit.

    It might work even longer, because she probably does truly feel indebted to you.

    But Jane’s do love attention, so you may have to do this multiple times and there’s a real chance that at some point she’ll get angry at you about it.

    1. allathian*

      Honestly, at this point the LW might be willing for Jane to get angry if it meant that she’d leave them alone as well.

  23. CL. Eisinger*

    This is a really unusual situation. Fewer than 5% of cardiac arrest victims will ever leave the hospital alive. Of those who do survive, most will never live independently, let alone return to their previous levels of activity.

    Allison’s advice makes sense and you’re right to draw boundaries. “anonymous trainer’s” advice sounds good too. That said, please don’t forget what an incredibly fortunate “problem” this is to have. Not only did you save Jane, you had the presence of mind to recognize a sudden cardiac arrest AND do CPR, which most bystanders fail to do. However Jane chooses to behave, you did the right thing. And if Jane’s eternal (annoying) gratitude is the price you’ve got to pay… well, maybe that’s not too high.

    1. PharmaKat*

      The 5% statistics is not accurate. Of course survival rate depends on 1) where are you from (the survival rate is, obviously, lower in “developing” countries) and 2) how do you count, e.g. whether you include in-hospital cardiac arrest in the patients that are already severely ill or injured or go into cardiac arrest during surgery. Just googled the statistics for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests for London UK. Overall survival to hospital discharge rate is 10%, and this is because in majority of cases, no resuscitation was attempted – either the victim was alone, or bystanders did not know what to do. In cases where defibrillator was used and CPR performed by bystanders, survival to hospital discharge was 57%.
      So please learn to do CPR and use defibrillator, it makes the huge difference and if done correctly, the victim has a fair chance to survive.

      1. Lab Lady*

        I do think the proliferation of AED’s that anyone can be trained to use have really changed that number.

        1. CLE*

          It’s gone up a little bit. It’s gotten higher for in-hospital arrests and dramatically higher for student athletes, from 71%-89% (https://www.ahajournals.org/doi/10.1161/jaha.117.007469). My guess is that the athletes are younger, healthier, and have specific heart problems that can be “fixed” faster than those of adults.

          Neurological outcomes are important too: most people who initially survive cardiac arrest die a few days later from brain swelling caused by lack of oxygen. It’s not just about surviving, it’s also about getting people to have good outcomes if they survive.

      2. CLE*

        I meant to post up here but somehow it unlinked and went to the bottom of the comment thread. So here goes:

        PharmaKat, I wish you were right. But 90% of cardiac arrest patients die (https://www.heart.org/-/media/Files/About-Us/Policy-Research/Fact-Sheets/Acute-Care/Out-of-Hospital-Cardiac-Arrest.pdf).

        Only 40% of people who experience sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital will ever receive CPR or defibrillation (https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2023/01/03/cpr-cardiac-arrest-aed/).

        CPR/defibrillation can help people to survive sudden arrhythmias and heart attacks. 5-10% is far superior to 0% and still results in thousands of survivors per year. But I worry that writing numbers like “57%” in the same sentence as “CPR” provides people with false hope. We’re not there yet.

        As someone who’s lost a loved one to sudden cardiac arrest, I really wish we were there. But even with prompt CPR and defibrillation, many people still don’t make it, and their stories are just as legitimate as those of the people who do make it.

  24. Melissa*

    Jane aside– I think that your other co-workers just haven’t taken a moment to think through how traumatic this must have been for you. If you TELL them, they will probably go “Oh god, I never thought about that; I’m so sorry I’ve been making this person relieve their trauma in front of an audience.” Just pull aside one or two of the ones you like and trust, and say “Can you help me with this whole Jane CPR thing? It was honestly traumatic (you can skip the part about disliking Jane, and really lean into how much the experience of someone almost dying affected you) and I feel so uncomfortable and anxious when people talk about it. Can you sort of run interference for me when you hear someone bring it up?” I’m sure they will get it!

  25. CityMouse*

    I think I’d frame it as “Don’t thank me thank [insert whatever organization you learned CPR through]” and suggest people take their own classes or donate. Redirect the attention.

    1. Trout 'Waver*

      Yeah, this was my first thought also. Suggest if she feels moved to buy presents or gifts, instead to donate anonymously to a selected charity.

  26. Holy Carp*

    I would be horrified if I were receiving this sort of attention on an ongoing basis, potentially forever.

    I might resort to asking Jane to donate her eggs so me and my partner can afford IVF.

    1. Chilipepper Attitude*

      You might be onto something. Is there a thing the OP can ask for as thanks that crosses a line enough that Jane will stop bringing it up with the OP?

      Like follow Alison’s advice. But if that does not work, can you say, “I’ve thought about it, and my spouse and I really need help getting our new business off the ground, can you be our funding partner?” Try to scare her off.

      1. Nina*

        Consider that she might feel grateful enough to say yes, and then where will you be.

  27. Sherm*

    I saved a friend’s life last year, and that very day we carried on pretty much as normal. For sure, we talked about it that day, the next day, and occasionally thereafter. But, just like apologizing over and over again serves little purpose and can wind up annoying people, thanking people repeatedly can lead to the same. I wouldn’t be surprised if everyone, new hires included, are getting their cues from Jane.

    1. Colette*

      I think this is a good point. After the initial thank you, repeated thank yous feel more about the person doing the thanking than about the recipient.

  28. Spicy Tuna*

    Curious if the OP’s office has a dedicated “emergency” team? At my last job, they asked for volunteers for two crucial tasks – 1. Basic first aid; and 2. Emergency “sherpas”.

    A certain number of people on each floor of the building received CPR and basic first aid instruction and there were also several people on each floor responsible for making sure everyone was vacating if the fire alarm went off.

    I think this is useful not only from a risk management perspective, but to avoid the situation the OP is describing. There is a team in place that can and will help in the event of an emergency.

    Something similar happened in our office… I was on the first aid team and I was in a meeting with my boss and the head of another department. My boss and I were about to communicate a big change in something time sensitive and my boss said to me before the meeting, “D is going to have a heart attack when we ask him to do this”. Sure enough, my boss starts telling him about the requested change, and D said, “I don’t feel good”, got up, and promptly collapsed.

    Lucky for D that a) I was on the first aid team and b) it wasn’t a cardiac event, although another team member was on hand with the defib machine.

    He was thankful that we were there to help him, but it definitely was seen by him as part of work, if that makes sense. Like, the company is prepared for something like this, it’s not just “luck” that your life could be saved by your co-workers.

    1. Saved my coworker... who I can't stand*

      OP here. Until the pandemic, our office had a minimum of 2 trained emergency response volunteers for every area of the building. Now that we’re working mostly hybrid, we generally have only 2 for the entire office. The day of Jane’s emergency, I was the only one on the premises.

      That’s an amazing story. I’m glad D was okay.

    2. VLookupsAreMyLife*

      I just spent a solid 3 minutes contemplating scenarios in which “emergency Sharpies” would have been helpful. Time for more coffee, apparently…

  29. HCTZ*

    Alison, you are a therapist in another life/dimension I swear!! This is some great communication advice!

  30. CheesePlease*

    Allison’s advice is really good.

    If Jane is still pushy about stuff I would perhaps suggest she bring up the idea of company CPR training to HR / management. In manufacturing environments (my field) it’s common to have first aid trainings, CPR trainings etc. It’s a useful skill to have. And a good way for her to put her energy to use. She is ultimately thankful she is alive because of your quick actions. But a better way to thank you is by leaving you alone and giving more people the same skillset you had.

    1. Saved my coworker... who I can't stand*

      Hi Cheese, OP here. We do have mandated company emergency training. I was the only trained person on the floor where Jane was at the time (the others were remote due to hybrid work schedule).

      CPR/AED/Narcan training is a literal lifesaver and I’m profoundly grateful I was able to help when it was needed.

  31. HappywhereI'mat*

    Sorry you have relive that every day. I did CPR on my dad 23 years ago and he made it. He’s now 91. I still get a little freaked out and anxious when people talk about CPR but much less than I did. I won’t take another CPR class because I can still feel how it felt on a real person. I end up telling the whole story again when work advertises CPR classes they want everybody to take. No thank you.

  32. kittybutton*

    Maybe Jane reads AAM and problem solved! (And maybe that was OP’s plan…genius!)

  33. Sparkles McFadden*

    I’ve been in this exact same situation, LW, and I can tell you, Alison’s suggestion is the way to go. My “Jane” was an annoying guy who got exponentially more annoying after what he called “The day he almost died.” He kept bringing gifts to the office, and anytime we were in the same place at the same time (elevator, hallway, cafeteria, and once at the local post office…gah!) he’d come right up next to me and shout “This woman saved my life!!!” to total strangers. The only thing that kept me from rolling my eyes was the gallows humor of the coworkers who would say”If it helps, I want you to know I am mad at you for saving him” which helped me slap a neutral look on my face.

    He showed no sign of letting up, so I finally told the guy the gifts needed to stop and he should donate to the Red Cross (where I got the training) instead. I told him I would appreciate it if he would lobby for the company to get more on site training (or to allow for reimbursement for training on our own time). I said I would feel “paid in full” if he, and everyone in his family got CPR and advanced first aid training. Yeah, I still got a small gift once a year (on the anniversary of the event) but he largely refocused his energies into doing something constructive.

    1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      I love how you handled this by redirecting his energy toward him and his family learning CPR, that’s a great approach. Similar to other suggestions above about advocating for work CPR, but more actionable for the people most impacted (and who might have the hardest time redirecting their gratitude to you toward something less annoying)

  34. Jam on Toast*

    Years ago, I performed first aid on a fellow commuter when they were hit by a car. We were all getting off the train and walking down from the platform out to the sidewalk. The man in question was fifteen or twenty feet in front of me when a car, going to fast, turned left and hit him in the intersection. The driver was at fault, 100%. The light was green, the walk sign was on. The man got up and the driver was eager to have them ‘walk it off’ and not call the cops. I said *that*wasn’t happening, called 911, and then performed basic first aid until the people with the sirens and the lights and the first aid equipment actually arrived. The man was taken to the hospital and the driver was charged. A week or sol ater, the man came up to me on the train, thanked me and told me that the x-rays showed he’d sustained pretty serious damage to his spine and my insistence on his going to the hospital had been really critical to his swift and full recovery. He gave me a coffee shop gift card and from then on, we would nod, briefly and silently, if we saw each other in the train car, but no more.

    Jane likes the attention and is relishing the drama and ‘good feelings’ rehashing it brings her because no one can say ‘eh, I didn’t care much either way if you’d made it’ and not sound like a monster. If you want to divert attention more beyond simply redirecting back to work whenever it’s brought up, consider suggesting your employer books a first aid trainer for everyone. That way, next time an office nemesis drops, someone else will be prepared to leap into action and have to suffer the accolades instead of you.

    1. Elitist Semicolon*

      Now imagining a Red Cross class specifically titled “CPR for Office Nemeses.”

  35. DocVonMitte*

    This comment section is being weirdly mean-spirited towards Jane. I get that OP does not like her and she does sound annoying, but that doesn’t make her manipulative or vindictive or all the other odd things that people are “warning” of.

    I agree with Allison and hope OP tries her script. Also, I hope some commenters here examine their own biases (and think through how assuming malicious/ill intent when someone annoys you affects those of us who don’t present super “normally” when it comes to social cues).

    1. CLE*

      Totally agree about Jane. A cardiac arrest is a traumatic, life-changing experience. Her response might be “annoying,” but what happened to her was pretty extreme.

      Also, I think there are also a lot of assumptions about CPR and cardiac arrest on this thread. CPR can help people survive a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), but there are far too many people who assume that the survival rate of a SCA is 50-60%. It’s not. It’s more like 5-10%, with most survivors left neurologically impaired for the rest of their lives.

      That Jane could return to a normal life and go back to work is really, REALLY rare. Most people aren’t that lucky. And OP is really lucky that her efforts succeeded! Jane’s behavior might not be ideal, but at least OP doesn’t have to feel guilt for failing at/failing to attempt CPR. That is far worse (I’m speaking from personal experience).

    2. allathian*

      It’s a matter of degree really. The attention the LW’s getting has been excessive and they have to relive the trauma of seeing Jane’s lifeless body on the floor every time the subject is brought up. I wish more people had more sympathy for the LW.

      Did you read LW’s post about the 90-minute phone call where several preschoolers were prompted to tell the LW how grateful they were that the LW saved their mom’s life? This isn’t normal gratitude anymore, it’s obsessive.

      Added to that the fact that the LW’s and Jane’s personalities don’t match, and you have this mess.

  36. CoastEast*

    wow, at least Jane was grateful! I once performed CPR at my SOs work party on a guy who was really creepy and NOBODY liked. he survived, but the next time I saw him he said “thanks but I’m not interested in you like that.” uhhhmmm, you’re not interested in being saved???? I certainly didn’t want my mouth anywhere near his. How could I possibly respond politely to that sort of comment?!

    1. Elitist Semicolon*

      You’re a better person than I am because my Awful Brain would have blurted, “Next time I won’t save you.”

      1. coffee*

        The temptation to respond with that! Although I suspect I would be so gobsmacked in the moment that I wouldn’t even think of it until later.

      2. CoastEast*

        I was mostly so shocked I couldn’t respond lol. I think I said something along the lines of “uhhh okay dude”

    2. Silver Robin*

      I am aghast. I cannot think of a response even with the benefit of comment section hindsight…

      I can just imagine the reddit thread: coworker’s partner flirted with me by giving me CPR but I was not into them, so I let them down gently. They got mad, AITA?

  37. ELK*

    to OP/resuscitated Jane: When you’re having that little chat with Jane, asking her for her help, do this one thing: Pretend to yourself that you actually like her. Then behave that way.

  38. Thomas Merton*

    “Jane, if you don’t shut up about this, I won’t save your life next time.”

  39. Princess of Pure Reason*

    My first (snarky and inappropriate) thought was “Jane, don’t make me sorry I saved you…”

  40. Striped Badger*

    Am I the only one that thinks that Jane’s redirecting the trauma of “omg I nearly died!” into her gratefulness to the OP?

    1. It's Me*

      LITERALLY coming in here to say just that. Doesn’t give her the right to stress out LW, especially if she continues after being asked to stop, but the shift in perspective might help give her some grace.

      1. Striped Badger*

        It also means that a part of the response, would be if we could point Jane at some sort of therapy. That this response isn’t working isn’t a moral failing of the OP, but it means that a solution focuses purely on getting the OP away from Jane isn’t the best one. The best solution is where Jane gets help outside the OP to find new outlets and process that trauma fully.

        And I can’t expect Jane to get to that conclusion on her own. She nearly died. Trauma is normal and expected, but right now Jane can make herself think everything is under control because she’s not breaking down and a mess. The reason she’s not breaking down is because she’s redirecting all that into her gratefulness to OP.
        Jane can’t see that this isn’t healthy because that would mean she has to pop her denial bubble and see things aren’t actually okay. Forest for the trees and all that. There needs to be outside intervention: is there anyone here that knows both Jane and OP that can start to intercede and redirect that energy into trying to convince Jane to get that help?

  41. Jade*

    I resuscitated someone. I never wanted to talk about it again. Let’s move on from it is all I said. Eventually it stopped.

  42. Don't Do That*

    First of all, well done to LW because knowing how to utilise learned skills in a crisis does not come naturally to most people. I used to be a nurse & it took me a solid year of working to be able to react instinctively to a code call without having to think through the procedures.

    It sounds like Jane still needs to talk about what happened & by bringing it up at work she gets that outlet while feeling like she is being kind by reminding the other staff what a good thing you did. Jane needs professional therapy to process the events.

    Good luck. I hope she listens to your concerns & stops bringing it up for you.

  43. tw1968*

    To anyone that brings it up, including Jane, use the comments others have suggested about it being very traumatic, etc. BUT ALSO suggest to everyone that the best way to show their appreciation…would be for them to take a CPR course as well!! They might be in a situation to be the hero next time and save someone’s life.

  44. CLE*

    The numbers are similar in the US (https://www.heart.org/-/media/Files/About-Us/Policy-Research/Fact-Sheets/Acute-Care/Out-of-Hospital-Cardiac-Arrest.pdf). Rates in the UK could be higher if you have better access to equipment and training, which are both lacking in many parts of the US, particularly rural and low-income areas.

    57% seems like a decent survival rate, but only 40% of people who experience sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital will ever receive CPR or defibrillation (https://www.washingtonpost.com/wellness/2023/01/03/cpr-cardiac-arrest-aed/). OP helped Jane right away, which is unusual, and whatever caused Jane’s heart rhythm was “reversible,” meaning it responded right away to the epi, defibrillator, and other treatments she was given. She may have had an arrythmia or a heart attack, both of which are more likely to respond to defibrillation than say, a pulmonary embolism or sepsis.

    I’m not saying CPR/defibrillation doesn’t work. 5-10% is far superior to 0% and still results in thousands of survivors per year (their quality of life is a different story). But I worry that writing numbers like “57%” in the same sentence as “CPR” provides people with false hope. We’re not there yet. As someone who’s lost a loved one to sudden cardiac arrest, I really wish we were there. But even with prompt CPR and defibrillation, many people still don’t make it, and their stories are just as legitimate as those of the people who do make it.

    1. BatManDan*

      When in the company of only strangers, women are less likely to receive CPR then men, apparently due to the reluctance of strangers to touch a woman’s chest / expose her breasts. (No one to know for sure; no good way to survey all the strangers that failed to provide aid.) The woman who taught me CPR said “I’d rather be exposed than dead; oh, and be prepared to break a few ribs along the way.”

    2. Stats*

      Thank you for your comment. I helped do CPR which did not resuscitate our neighbour in a rural area where it took a long time for the EMTs with a defibrillator to arrive. It was a difficult experience.
      This made it easier:
      During CPR training, we were told that if someone requires CPR, they are in effect already dead, and you have a 5 – 10% chance of reviving them. It would have been very difficult to live with the guilt of not being able to save a neighbour’s husband if we had not known that. It’s not like in the movies.
      OP, during and after our experience it seemed like everyone’s normal emotional state was magnified. The angry person continued to focus on the slowness of the ambulance, the introverts made eye contact when they met but have never spoken of it again, etc. Everyone NEEDS to process the experience in their own way. And that applies to you, and to Jane.
      As a fellow introvert, I feel your pain. Wishing you patience and grace to tolerate Jane as she works through her Big Feelings.

  45. Amorette Allison*

    The woman who collapsed at my office a few months ago died. CPR and medics and the whole deal and she still died. It will be a traumatic discussion for years to come. Maybe convey that while Jane is rejoicing, you would rather not go back to that stressful moment ever, ever again.

  46. morethantired*

    This sounds like a situation where OP could benefit from using their company’s EAP to get not just help with the workplace trauma they experienced but tips on dealing with the uncomfortable office dynamics that came out of it. I broke an arm at a work conference and was out for a month while I waited to get surgery then recover from it. When I came back, it was obviously the talk of the office and I had a really hard time adjusting to coming back to work after such a long absence and with everyone having questions/comments about what happened, how I was doing, how my recovery was going, etc. I was in the break room feeling lost and saw a sign about the EAP that specifically called out “having trouble adjusting after parental leave?” and I realized I could get help. The EAP helped put me in touch with professionals who coached me on how to get back into the swing of things and how to redirect the questions/conversations. It’s definitely worth contacting them, because I imagine it must be really hard to be reminded of such a traumatic experience every day at the office.

  47. Brian the Brian*

    I had a coworker call an ambulance for me once; no resuscitation necessary on her part, thankfully, but I did feel somewhat indebted to her for a bit. I bought her lunch, and we’re still friendly, but I’ve made sure not to overstep. I hope you can find a similar balance, OP.

  48. Pierrot*

    I’m glad that you were there for Jane, and based on your comments, it sounds like you have really put in a lot of effort to receive her praise and gratitude. Not going to lie, based on the letter I thought that the phone call with the family was much shorter than 90 minutes! I think that about 30 minutes in, I would have done a polite, “I have to make it to an appointment but thank you for your call!”

    I definitely agree with the suggestions to contact your EAP if your work provides one. I also think that you can say something directly to Jane without having to go into great detail about how the incident affected you. I don’t think you have to say anything about reliving the trauma- you can just say “I understand that you want to express your gratitude, and I appreciate that. It’s been challenging for me to be reminded of it at work, and I would prefer not to talk about it here.”

    Then going forward, when she brings it up, you can just do a quick “Thanks Jane!” and then switch topics/say that you have to get back to whatever you were working on.

  49. Education is a good thing.*

    That sounds really stressful, and not just the aftermath. Thank you for your post though as it got me to look up how to use an office defibrillator. I already took a Cpr class years ago, but maybe this is a good time to get re-educated. These are things we could all use learning.

  50. Marie*

    can I comment on this from Jane’s side?

    this happened to my mother. but my mother was Jane.
    my mom was at work and her heart stopped. she literally fell over dead. two women did CPR and then a defibrillator and another called 911. my mother was shocked more times than we could count. the EMTs came and took her to the hospital where she stayed for 2 weeks. mom barely survived this.

    we owe the women who did the CPR her life. they gave us 6 more years with mom before congestive heart failure eventually took her from us..
    we never had the chance to say thank you. we didn’t know the names of the people who saved her until they were given awards by the red cross. and even then we didn’t get a chance to say thank you because my mom didn’t realize what the invitation from the red cross was even for. she just had me drop her off and then I picked up a very emotional overwhelmed mother an hour later.

    I understand why the family and Jane are love bombing. it’s incredibly traumatic to almost lose someone like that and then to know someone helped save your life.. you feel endebited to them. I understand how it would be uncomfortable to be the person who did the CPR. it’s traumatic for them too. you used a skill that thank god you had, a skill you honestly never thought you’d really need to use.

    I understand you don’t like Jane to begin with. and I understand that makes this to much more complex. I can just speak from the family side and say that we were so grateful when this happened to us that honestly given the opportunity and had our heads been clearer we probably would have love bombed the people who saved my mom. I don’t remember if we ever did anything I don’t think we did we were just so fixated on my mother we just were on autopilot.

    1. Saved my coworker... who I can't stand*

      Hi Marie, OP here.

      I appreciate your situation, and I’m so glad you had the extra time with your mom.

      Jane’s situation is different. She’s was “love-bombing” in the beginning. I got that, and tried to be understanding. Jane’s behavior since her return is much like her pre-medical emergency attention-seeking, except she’s now involving me in it as her “new best friend.” I think I mentioned in the letter that she’s telling new hires about it, who then come to me for the story.

      On my side, the experience was traumatic; CPR is a violent and physically exhausting act to perform. I was emotionally devastated and took a long weekend to recover emotionally enough to return to work.

      1. I wouldn't save my Jane*

        If you’re being recruited to tell the story, may I suggest making the story as brief and neutral as possible so people lose interest? My mother is also a drama/attention-seeking Jane, and I am someone who hates the attention she’s already trying to call to me (but actually to make it all about herself).

        When cornered, I learned to tell the stories she wanted me to repeat in the briefest, dullest manner possible. I tried to keep it summed up to three or fewer short sentences that got at the meat of it. I also made sure to not be rude, but shrug it off as no big deal and also put an apologetic smile on my face so the audience wouldn’t think I was just trying to be a jerk. Less, “Ugh, I’m making this brief because I don’t wanna waste time with you or this crap” and more a subtle, “I’m sorry Jane built this up to you, but it’s really not a Hollywood action flick, just a thing that happened.” I also let mild discomfort with the situation show. I was also not above answering questions with, “Sorry, that’s honestly all I know/remember about it” even if it was a lie.

        My mother would get mad at me for not playing along, but she’d eventually taper off trying to involve me in her dramatics. Well, until the next “big event” she could bring up over and over again. Since you’re not close to Jane, with luck, you won’t have any more “big events” that she can dredge up.

  51. Starfleet HVAC Engineering*

    Indebted forever, you say? Remember the movie The Shadow from the 1990s?
    “I have saved your life. It now belongs to me.”

  52. DCLimey*

    Only one thing better than a hero, OP, and that’s a RELUCTANT HERO. This is definitely a challenging one.

    As she now thinks she owes you her life, the obvious move here is a complicated scheme to put you in fake danger so she can save you and the debt will be repaid.

    And them you’ll fall in love and realize that the real heroes were the friends we made along the way.

  53. Plankly*

    I had to perform CPR on a coworker too. In my case, he didn’t survive. I was also hailed as a hero, and while the experience was definitely traumatic and involved, I don’t think I did anything heroic. He died. It was too late to revive him by the time we found him. I can’t help but feel wistful as I read this letter. I wish that could have been the outcome for me too, even the annoying parts. OP is absolutely right to feel the way they do. Hopefully my story just adds a different perspective that might be helpful.

    1. CLE*

      Yes, this is the more common situation. I think OP’s feelings are legitimate, but really her outcome was the best one possible.

  54. Plankly*

    I read a comment from OP further up in the thread and wanted to add that I’m so sorry Jane is acting this way. My comment is in no way meant to make OP feel guilty or force them to be grateful to receive unwanted, extreme attention. I really think the grass is greener sometimes…

  55. Eileen*

    So, I’m (in my version) Jane’s spouse.

    In 2011, my husband had a horrible car accident where he went off the road, through a fence and into a retention pond. The car behind him pulled over. The driver called 911. The passenger was a former D1 swimmer who jumped into a gross retention pond and tried to get him out. When she couldn’t, she held his head up as long as she could. She gave him the gift of time. Because of her amazing actions, he lived, we went on to have 10 great years where he finished college, got married, had a baby, bought a house, etc. Because of her. Our daughter is named after her.

    The Talmud says, “He who saves a life, it is as if he saved an entire world.” I know you are uncomfortable with the gratitude, all I will tell you is they do not know how to best honor the person who gave them their world back. You were literally the difference between life going on and the end of the world as they know it, and they’re also processing their own trauma. Any grace you can show her these next few months will pay dividends.

    Thanks for all you did.

  56. cleo*

    Wasn’t there a letter where the LW was wondering how to handle this exact scenario, only wanting to know what they should do if they were ever the Jane (the person rescued at work)? It wasn’t something that had happened to them but they were thinking about it.

    I tried searching the archives but didn’t find it.

  57. Susannah*

    Oh, LW, this is tough because my first thought was – YOU SAVED SOMEONE’S LIFE. And you’re not a first responder. I’m not as annoying as Jane (I hope!) and I think I might have a hard time letting it go. Especially because.. how do you repay someone for that? (I’d make a joke here and say, but dying and going away forever, but not funny, even with annoying Jane).

    Have you thought about seeing a counselor? Most of us would assume it’s Jane who would need some help, given the near-death experience and all. But this was traumatic in its way for you as well. Even though you succeeded, it was a tremendous amount of responsibility you had there (and though no one would have blamed you if the resuscitation did not work). This is almost as much of a life-shaking experience for you as for Jane. And then you have to walk around like The Hero all the time? Adding more pressure, in its own way?

    I’m serious; a professional might help you with all that, even if Alison’s excellent advice works on Jane. This is a big deal, what you did, and you’ll carry it forever.

  58. Jasmi*

    Can I just say that the ‘I almost expected to hear from her dog’ comment gave me a laugh I really needed right now!

  59. Allen*

    I’m going to suggest therapy to help you process. You saved a life, which is no small positive thing, but is still a traumatic event. I volunteer in local government, and even professionals can struggle with the emotions, attention, and “bonding” after a save.

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