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Tommy Watson of Williston, Vermont worked with the American Heart Association two years ago as an 8th grader to pass legislation requiring Hands-only CPR to be taught in health classes in Vermont schools. And, like the Energizer Bunny, this super kid keeps on going and going and going! Tommy, now a sophomore, has trained over 1,300 people this life-saving skill! Tommy is pictured here teaching former Vermont Governor Madeleine Kunin Hands-only CPR at the American Heart Association's Go Red for Women Luncheon in January.
Monica’s husband suffered cardiac arrest in December of 2011. His heart defibrillator activated six times, but did not restart his heart as it was designed to do. He was unresponsive, his eyes were closed and his breathing had stopped. Monica quickly began performing CPR on her husband, a skill she had learned thirty years ago in a Biloxi, MS middle school. Monica’s husband lived because of her quick action and her basic knowledge and training in CPR. A time may come when students will need to use the CPR training they can learn in schools. For Monica, it was thirty years later and she still remembered CPR enough to save her husband’s life. The more our students know, the more equipped lifesavers we have in our communities.
Thirteen year old Gwyneth Griffin died in July 2012 after suffering a cardiac arrest at school. Her parents, Joel and Jennifer Griffin, saw the need for CPR training in schools and were tireless advocates for advancing legislation for CPR in schools. Through Joel and Jennifer’s hard work, Gwyneth's Law was signed into law in Virginia in May 2013. This law requires all teachers to be CPR certified, AEDs to be found in every school, and all students receive CPR training by the time they graduate. Through the Griffin’s efforts and in honor of their beautiful daughter Gwyneth, many lives will be saved through the necessary CPR trainings needed in schools.
In June of 2011, two days after speaking at her high school graduation in Wilmington, Delaware, Grace suffered from Sudden Cardiac Arrest. She had barely reached her mother's bedroom that night to tell her she wasn’t feeling well before she collapsed on her mother’s bed. Her mother called 911 as her brother rushed in and immediately started chest compressions, later followed by rescue breaths. EMTs were there within 3 minutes and took over. They shocked her with an AED a total of 6 times throughout the night. She spent 10 days at the hospital and later walked out with a newly fitted ICD (Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator) in her left chest. Against most odds, she started college in the honors program that fall and joined the university's club soccer team. She has since become an intern with the American Heart Association, doing research on heart defects and working as an advocate for CPR as a high school graduation requirement. Without her 24 year old brother's knowledge of CPR, which was learned from his Red Cross certification in 6th grade, she would not be alive today.
In June 2009, while swimming with family, Cody was found at the bottom of the swimming pool. He was quickly pulled from the pool. He was not breathing and his heart had stopped beating. Luckily, a bystander, Jennifer Turner, began performing CPR and instructed the family to call 911. While the fire station was less than two miles away, it took over 15 minutes for the first responder to arrive. In this short time Jennifer was able to revive Cody and save his life. Jennifer learned CPR when she was in High School, and was able to recall and rely on this knowledge some years later to save Cody’s life. After Cody’s accident, his parents wanted to help empower as many people as possible with the simple skills of CPR. They began holding community events at local schools and churches for parents, teachers, even kids. The events were not only for certification in CPR, but also for imparting the knowledge and confidence for individuals to be able to help others in life threatening situations. Cody’s parent’s quest to encourage and advocate the knowledge of CPR will continue, because if it were not for Jennifer and her knowledge, their son would not be alive today.
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.
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.
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.