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More than two-dozen first-graders were squealing and bouncing balls on a mid-February morning in the gym in an East Boston school when six-year-old Olivia suddenly collapsed. No one saw it coming. The little girl with the strawberry-blonde hair and no front teeth had been in perfect health. Robert, a PE teacher, rushed to the girl's side, only to feel her pulse fade away. He thought of his own young daughter, the same age, and got to work. Using their CPR training, Robert and fellow teacher Kathleen pumped the girl's tiny frame. It was an effort that doctors and emergency workers later credited with saving Olivia's life. Firefighters and emergency workers arrived shortly afterward and shocked the girl with a defibrillator. Olivia's heartbeat returned. Joe, Olivia’s father, has been devoted ever since in making sure all schools have CPR training and AEDs are placed throughout our community. They have even had a save with an AED they worked to donate!
Bert suffered sudden cardiac arrest. Fortunately, when he collapsed, he was in a small store in Newburyport where an 18-year-old senior in high school, Derek, happened to be shopping for a tux for the prom. Derek had just completed a CPR course, which is a graduation requirement at Newburyport High School. Within 20 seconds he was performing CPR on Bert. He was able to keep the blood and oxygen moving through Bert’s heart until the EMTs arrived to shock his heart back. Without CPR in Schools, Bert would never be able to celebrate another birthday, and his family would be without their husband and father.
Fourteen-year-old Tommy Watson does not let his age stop him from making a difference in his home state of Vermont. After witnessing a man in need of CPR, Tommy decided that everyone his age should be equipped with the skills to save a life. He recently testified at the state capitol in support of a bill that would require all Vermont high school students to learn CPR before graduation. His testimony was well received by lawmakers. "All agreed with me that this is a very important skill to know," said Watson. And his quest is making an impact. Just recently, he marked his 100th training by teaching the Lieutenant Governor Hands-Only CPR. Tommy's mission has gained plenty of media coverage, including a spot on his local news.
On an early Friday morning after Thanksgiving in 2007, Janet Whitney’s husband Terry had a massive heart attack in their home. Terry, who was 52, had had no previous heart issues before. He had said he didn’t feel well, and then collapsed on the floor. Fortunately, Janet’s and Terry’s daughter Erica was there when he collapsed. She called to family members for help, called 911, and immediately began performing CPR. Erica, then 22, had learned CPR in high school as part of lifeguard training. Terry survived his heart attack and saw Erica get married and is now enjoying life as a grandfather. He, Erica, and Janet speak passionately about the difference CPR made in their lives.
Two years ago, high school student Emily Rose Adamczak was at soccer practice, when she collapsed and went into Sudden Cardiac Arrest. It was more than 5 minutes before she received CPR. Emily’s mom Annette wonders if her life could have been saved and has vowed to try to make sure no other family suffers the same tragedy. Working tirelessly, she has worked with partners such as the local fire department and the AHA to train people in CPR. She now is focused on CPR in Schools. She recently made sure all 400+ students at Akron High School have been trained in CPR and how to use an AED. Now it’s time to make that true for all high school students.
Sean Burns is a 14-year-old hockey player for Milford, MA. Sean was shocked by a local incident of a high school hockey player who was struck in the chest by a slap shot and went into cardiac arrest. Luckily the Milford High School trainer was able to save his life with CPR and an AED. Not all hockey programs are fortunate enough to have AEDs, so Sean’s goal is to be able to provide AEDs to avoid what happened to Tyler. This injury does not discriminate; it doesn’t care if your school can't afford one. Most high schools do have AEDs but they are not dedicated to the hockey team alone. Sean feels strongly that the head coach should have one at every game, scrimmage, and practice. Sean’s plan is to find companies that wish to help purchase AEDs directly, and he will deliver them to the hockey programs. Sean started Hearts4Hockey in January 2011 and has already placed 10 AEDs and is working on more in the future.
As a teacher, I know firsthand the many demands that schools are juggling. Skeptics may tell you that schools simply don’t have the time or money to teach CPR. How do I know schools can successfully teach CPR? I teach CPR at Pierson High School in Sag Harbor, NY. Our program, which has been in place since 1994, trains students in both 7th & 10th grades in CPR. Amazingly, 16 lives have been saved because these students used their CPR skills in the real world! If our school can save 16 lives, imagine how many lives we could save if all students learned CPR before graduation?
After receiving hands-on CPR training at school, Jeffrey Hall knew exactly what to do when he saw that his little brother, Skylar, was not breathing. He had been playing in the pool, his mother turned her back for a couple minutes to answer a call, and when she came back Skylar was drowning. Hearing his mother’s screams, Jeffrey ran to see what had happened. Once he saw Skylar, he immediately started performing CPR as he was taught in school. Cookeville is one of a few cities in Tennessee that requires hands-on CPR certification as a graduation requirement. Skylar Hall is alive today because Jeffrey knew how to correctly administer CPR.
Students at Martin Luther King Magnet High are receiving life-saving, hands-on CPR training from Dr. Tina Bozeman due to a grant from the Metro Nashville Fire Department. Dr. Bozeman feels that this hands-on training helps her students feel more confident and prepared to deliver CPR in an emergency situation. The American Heart Association is striving to make this type of hands-on training a graduation requirement for every state high school in Tennessee. This training offered by Dr. Bozeman is part of the high school Lifetime Wellness curriculum but in some communities in Tennessee is taught by local EMS responders.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a leading cause of death in the U.S.—but when ordinary people, not just doctors and EMTs, are equipped with the skills to perform CPR, the survival rate can double, or even triple.
Help us add thousands of lifesavers to our communities. Join us in supporting legislation that will ensure all students learn CPR before they graduate from high school.