Tommy Watson of Williston, who began an 8th grade school project two years ago to train 100 people in Hands-Only CPR has now trained over 1,000 people and wants to train thousands more before he graduates. What better inspiration for Vermont kids who will now be learning Hands-only CPR in health education classes in Vermont schools, than the 15 year old student who helped pass the law that required the CPR training of students!
Tommy shared his thoughts recently with the Huffington Post. See an excerpt below.
No matter whether I’m training the governor of Vermont, a Japanese exchange student who hardly speaks English or a room full of Girl Scouts, I always say the same thing: Learning CPR is easier than you think.
It takes about 2 minutes. And there are only two steps.
If you see someone collapse:
- Call 9-1-1.
- Then push hard and fast on the center of the chest, preferably to beat of the song “Stayin’ Alive,” until help arrives.
When I tell adults it only takes 2 minutes, some laugh and some are confused. They still think of CPR training as something that takes six hours and is so complicated they’re probably going to forgot it within a year. Then I explain about Hands-Only CPR and they are hooked.
The Hands-Only method is exactly what it sounds like.
You no longer need to give mouth-to-mouth breathing. Researchers figured out that adults have enough oxygen in their blood to keep circulating for about 10 minutes after the heart stops. So if someone pushes hard and fast, they can keep the patient’s blood pumping until the medical professionals get there. The key, of course, is having someone around who is ready to give those chest compressions.
It doesn’t happen often enough. There’s only about an 11 percent survival rate from sudden cardiac arrest. That means there’s about an 89 percent chance of dying.
It is also why it is so important to train more lifesavers.
The first class I taught was a group of Boy Scouts. They all figured it out right away, and that made me feel good. I was like, “Wow, I enjoyed that!” I became really passionate about this, and the domino effect happened. I went from scouts to churches and schools, then to businesses and big trade events. I trained Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin the day he signed the CPR in Schools law. My favorite training sessions was at the Heart Walk last fall, when I trained the exchange student from Japan. Being able to train a person who didn’t speak English proved just how easy it is!
Since witnessing the cardiac arrest that inspired me, I have not been around anyone who has needed CPR. But I know of two teenagers who have. Both learned it at school and ended up saving the life of one of their parents.
Casey Stashenko’s dad was resting after work in May 2012 when Casey’s mom noticed that he was still wearing his suit jacket and tie, and that his face was gray. She called 9-1-1, then tried performing CPR but didn’t know how. Casey told his mom she was doing it wrong and took over until the paramedics arrived. Doctors later discovered that Mr. Stashenko had a heart condition, and now he’s doing well.
Last November, Lindsay Dolan’s mom was watching a San Francisco 49ers game when her heart stopped. Lindsay came running when she heard her dad screaming. He called 9-1-1 and Lindsay began doing CPR until a neighbor who also knew CPR took over. Her mom got a defibrillator implanted, and has made a full recovery.
Casey lives in upstate New York, and Lindsay lives near San Francisco. Both go to schools that happen to teach CPR, because their states are among the 38 that do not yet require CPR training in high school – a number that I hope soon changes.
Their stories are great examples of why CPR training in schools is such a good idea. Hundreds of thousands of people could be trained that way each year. We’ll end up with an entire generation of people who will go into the working world knowing what to do to save a life.
I really hope that happens. I also hope that one day someone I’ve trained ends up saving a life. That would be even more satisfying than doing it myself because it would show that what I’m teaching worked – that someone remembered the skills and put them to use.
After all, there are only two steps. And it only takes 2 minutes to learn them.
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