Learn CPR!

I recently organized several CPR classes for Noreta Family Medicine patients as well as their family and friends. Damar Hamlin’s collapse during an NFL game in January 2023 inspired me to want to hold these CPR classes (although I admit it took a while to arrange!). It was the immediate on-field medical attention that Damar Hamlin received that saved his life, and that is no exaggeration. I wanted to introduce these life-saving skills to anyone who wanted to learn. Crystal Barrett, of Carolina CPR, was our instructor for the American Heart Association’s Friends and Family classes, and she was excellent! Everyone learned how to perform CPR on infants, children and adults, use an AED, and learn how to help a person who is choking using the Heimlich maneuver. The class was a combination of lectures, time for questions, and hands-on learning.

During the first class, it dawned on me just how valuable learning these skills are! For instance, you may have seen people do CPR on TV, but do YOU know how to do CPR in real life? You also may have seen an AED box on a wall at a gym or in your office, but do YOU know how to use it? Also, I think many of us have joked with family when they start to cough while eating, asking them if they need the Heimlich, but do YOU actually know the correct placement of your hands, and how hard to press?

Child hands on piano

Studies show that folks who have high-quality CPR performed on them after a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital have better survival rates than those who don’t. What’s more, folks do even better when both an AED is used and CPR is performed. The American Heart Association and American Red Cross have classes which teach you these important life-saving skills. I would highly recommend you take a class. There are classes for teens as well as adults, and you are never too old to learn new skills! A cardiac arrest can occur anywhere and you don’t need to be an expert to help, but exposure to the skills before you need to use them in a stressful situation can increase your comfort level. These classes teach you how to help if you witness a cardiac arrest and are by yourself, are with someone else, or are in a group. They give you tips on how to use your cell phone while still helping during an emergency, and let you practice until you feel comfortable.

As one class participant put it, “Before the class, there was no way I was ever going to think about stepping in during an emergency. I didn’t know what to do. Everyone’s heard of CPR, but it had been so long since I had any instruction – maybe I was never trained to do it before. It was also good to learn that you don’t have to give mouth-to-mouth breaths if you don’t feel comfortable. Now, if I had to, I would be able to help in an emergency.”

Blood vials for liquid biopsy

And after attending a class, I bet you will be able to tell me the importance of the song “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.

Have a good week! Feel free to contact me with any questions.
Melissa Boylan, MD, FAAFP
Family Physician and Owner of Noreta Family Medicine