I Never Expected the CPR Skills I Taught Others Would Go on to Save My Own Life

I've been a CPR and First Aid Instructor for more than 45 years, but never expected that the CPR skills I taught others would go on to save my own life.


hero_image_alt_text===dennis mcmahan
thumbnail_alt_text===dennis mcmahan

My mother had a heart attack many years ago, which led me to become a CPR instructor in 1976. I was then asked to sit on the Saginaw County, Michigan, AHA Board in 1978, and became the board's Vice-President and then President. I eventually went on to serve as the statewide AHA Board President and then as an Executive Board Trustee. 

My passion for advocacy began when I was invited to attend AHA's Heart on the Hill in Washington, D.C. This was amazing experience and opportunity to meet with Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator Gary Peters and Representative John Moolenaar, to advocate for increased funding for the National Institutes of Health. My advocacy involvement then led me to testify at the state capitol in the House Education Committee, as well as before the House and Senate, in support of Michigan's CPR in Schools bill, which was successfully passed. 

I’m currently a CPR/First Aid Instructor, and have been for around 45 years. I have saved over 100 lives during my career with CPR. On July 4, 1982, I was struck head-on by a drunk driver and went into cardiac arrest. The officers who I taught CPR to saved my life. 

In 2000, I worked with AHA to write a grant to receive funding to place ten AEDs in Saginaw Township Police units. During my tenure as Hemlock School Board President, I helped write a grant to put AEDs in their buildings. Within 2 days, a friend of mine went into cardiac arrest while playing basketball. One of those AEDs saved his life. 

As a CPR instructor an AHA volunteer for more than 45 years, I'm proud of the role I have had in saving lives in Michigan.

--Sgt. Denny McMahan/Retired

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