Shandra Printer & Annmarie Hanson Rhode Island
My name is Shandra. I performed CPR on my best friend Annmarie and saved her life. Annmarie and I became close about 8 years ago when our sons became friends. We live in the same neighborhood so our families get together at least twice a week, cook dinner and play Scrabble. Annmarie and I take Zumba together and even became instructors together. We grew very close over the years.
In 2010, Annmarie asked me to go to see a Kid Rock Concert with her. I didn't really know who Kid Rock was at the time but she had gone to a Barry Manilow concert with me so I said I would go. The concert was at Mohegan Sun on February 13th, a little over 3 years ago. It was on a Saturday so we decided to go early, do some shopping and have a nice dinner.
Annmarie drove and, when we were almost there, she became quiet and started rolling her shoulders. She said her back hurt from driving. We valet parked and, as we were walking in, she asked me if I had ever had heartburn that went straight through to the back.
We shopped in a few stores and Annmarie was very quiet. We decided to go to one more store and then find some Tums for her heartburn and sit down for a while. While we were looking through the store, Annmarie said “I hope this isn't anything more serious than heartburn.” I said something back to her but she didn't answer me. I turned around and asked her if she was alright. She shook her head no and collapsed into my arms.
I started screaming for help. I laid her down on the floor. A woman ran over and said she was a nurse. She said Annmarie was having a seizure and rolled her on her side. Annmarie was gasping for air and I noticed that she was turning blue. We rolled her back over and the nurse said we had to do CPR.
I was terrified. I had learned CPR in high school but that was 25 years ago. I couldn't believe this was happening to my young, healthy friend. Somehow, the steps for CPR came back to me and I did the chest compressions while the nurse gave Annmarie the breaths. It seemed like an eternity before the paramedics arrived, but it was probably about 5 minutes. The paramedics used a defibrillator on her and it was another 5 minutes before they got a pulse. At this point, I was down on my knees praying and begging for her life. They intubated her and put her on a gurney and rushed her through Mohegan Sun. I was so panicked that I never got to thank the nurse who helped me save my friend’s life. What a wonderful thing she did for a complete stranger!
Annmarie was rushed to the hospital and stabilized. Later she received an internal defibrillator. Annmarie is one of the healthiest people that I know. She eats healthy and exercises every day. You never know what's going on inside someone's body so I thank God all the time that I knew CPR and was able to help her that day.
Today, Annmarie and I are happy to share our story to raise awareness about the importance of learning CPR. We have also become advocates for the American Heart Association - sharing our story at the Rhode Island State House to build support for "CPR in Schools" legislation that would require all high school students in RI to receive hands-on CPR training and an overview of AED use prior to graduation as part of the health education curriculum.