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While I have heard numerous accounts of how Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) has saved a life, it is the accounts of the lives lost due to the lack of knowledge of CPR that really ignites my spirit. In a nation where heart disease is the leading cause of death, we cannot stand idly by and shrug these people off because they unfortunately did not collapse near a healthcare professional. I believe it is vital to educate our communities and all peoples in the simple knowledge that they can possibly make a difference in whether or not someone lives just by knowing CPR.

Recently, out of Austin, TX, there was a story where a 15-year-old boy saved his 83-year-old grandfather’s life because he was able to perform CPR he had learned as a boy scout (Hernandez, 2014). This young boy is a shining example of how anyone can make a difference in a life. This is also an example of how fortunate their family was that someone nearby had learned this life-saving skill. It is heart wrenching to think of the copious amounts of stories that do not end this way because family members do not know how they can help.

My brother is too, one of these amazing people who have saved a life. When he was just 25-years-old and returning home for a visit, his trip to a local swimming hole took a dramatic turn. Crystal clear pools of the fresh snow melt water are popular spots for knowledgeable locals who can make the hike when the triple digit heat blankets the county. During one of these trips, a woman got caught underneath the water and helpless to get out. Thankfully, my brother saw what had occurred and was able to successfully pull her from the water. Though he did not have to perform CPR, he was ready and knew what he had to do give that woman her best chance. His training in CPR and first aid gave him the confidence and knowledge he needed in that situation to act. Miles from help it was through his effort and the effort of another bystander who was able to run to call for help that this woman survived nearly drowning.

Unfortunately for so many, simple plans of the day can turn awry quickly. It is reassuring to know that in the case of emergency, all of the members of my immediate family have been trained to perform CPR. I wish that reassurance for all families. According to the American Heart Associate, four out of five cardiac arrests happen at home, and of the victims of cardiac arrest only 32% receive CPR from a bystander. As the chance of survival may double or triple with the immediate intervention of CPR, we cannot dismiss this need to educate our community (2011).

I am thankful for a family who were so willing to become certified in CPR and first aid. While my family members did take the time and spend money to complete the CPR and first aid courses, it does not need to become a sacrifice of time or money to learn the easy steps for “hands-only CPR” that could save a life. The importance of teaching others how they can provide assistance for those in need goes beyond improving the knowledge base of that person. It increases the chance that in an emergency situation these persons will have confidence to intercede not only for a family member but also possibly a member of their community.

Education is everything. I think of my brother’s situation; had he not been trained and knowledgeable on how to do CPR, he might not have been confident enough to step up in that emergency situation and save a life. As healthcare professionals we can lead the way in educating our families, friends, and neighbors, on how easily it is for them to step up with confidence in instances such as cardiac arrest or drowning victim emergencies. Building confidence and educating our families and friends that we can be there for each other, each one of us can play a life-saving role, will help us build a stronger more responsive community.

American Heart Association. (2011, June). CPR Statistics. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/CPRAndECC/WhatisCPR/CPRFactsandStats/CPR-Statistics_UCM_307542_Article.jsp
Hernandez, S. (2014, June 27). Boy Scout saves 83-year-old grandfather using CPR. KXAN. Retrieved August 18, 2014, from http://kxan.com/2014/06/27/boy-scout-saves-83-year-old-grandfather-using-cpr/

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