CPR saves lives. It is one of those skills that everybody should know, and it can really change someone’s life, as I found out for myself three years ago.
On October 14, 2009, the phone rang. My dad answered it. The only thing he said was, “Oh my God.” I knew instantly that something was very wrong.
He told my brother and I that my mom had had an accident while playing soccer and was in the hospital. The next morning, I was told that my mom had had a cardiac arrest and underwent a new hypothermic cooling treatment.
I later learned that two players on the opposing team performed CPR on her for seven minutes, as they waited for the ambulance to arrive.
My mom stayed in the hospital for only 10 days, and she returned to work six months later.
I know that I am very lucky to have my mom here, because according to the American Heart Association, 95 percent of people who have cardiac arrests outside of a hospital and do not receive CPR within the first six minutes die. My mom is alive because of the decisive actions of the two opposing players.
My mom has used this experience to spread the word about CPR.
My entire family has either re-certified in CPR or has learned it for the first time.
A Sudden Cardiac Arrest Support Group was started by a few survivors who ‘died” in October 2009. This group was started less than a year after their cardiac arrests, in order to help survivors and their families through a difficult experience.
The support group also participates in the Heart Walk every year, raising money for the American Heart Association.
But I feel that the most pertinent thing that my mom has done is attend “Lobby Day” each year for the past three years. This is a day devoted to convincing the New York State Legislature to pass a mandate that would make basic CPR and first aid training a graduation requirement for high school students.
This task is not as costly or difficult as it may first appear to be. Every student in New York state must take health class in order to graduate. Using just one or two days of health class each year will ensure that every student in the state will learn this vital skill.
This training is also virtually free. The American Heart Association has YouTube videos that demonstrate the newest techniques in CPR. As long as there is access to the Internet, there is no need for a professional CPR instructor.
Also, most local EMS services will lend training mannequins to a school for the students to practice CPR stills on.
Although it is not mandated by the state today, each individual school can take action. Some schools throughout the state, such as Averill Park, already have.
My mom and a fellow survivor go to Averill Park High School each year to talk to the students about their experiences and the importance of learning CPR.
The students are first told some statistics about CPR, such as that 88 percent of sudden cardiac arrests occur at home.
That means that the most likely person who you would use CPR on would be a family member.
Not only is someone having cardiac arrest likely to die if they do not quickly receive aid, but bystander CPR, which is CPR performed by someone who is nearby, doubles the chance of the person’s survival.
After learning some facts about CPR, and hearing some personal stories told by the survivors and an EMT, each student will learn how to perform CPR and practice on the mannequins.
This easy and cost-effective method will not get you official CPR certification, but as my mom’s friend and fellow CPR advocate says, “You don’t need a little card to save someone’s life.”