Each of us is alive today because someone performed CPR when we needed it. Here are our stories, in our own words:
Matt Nader: I will tell you with all my heart that I am lucky to be alive! Six years ago this September, I was playing football in College Station for Westlake High School when I suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. I was a few chest compressions and a little electronic box away from losing my life. I am here today because when I arrested on the sideline, there were a handful of people (including my parents and Dr. Paul Tucker) who recognized the emergency and started CPR, and there was the automated external defibrillator, brought to every practice and every game, and that day it helped save my life. There is no substitute for preparation. Lives can be saved!
Kirby Watson: In May 2010, I was volunteering with Habitat for Humanity in southeast Austin when I suffered a cardiac arrest and collapsed. Fortunately for me, two of my fellow volunteers started CPR immediately, while a third called 911. Their actions, with some coaching from the 911 operator, kept me alive until help arrived. After eight days in the hospital, I was sent home to recover. Most people don’t survive what I went through. I credit my fellow volunteers with keeping me alive until emergency medical services took over. I urge everyone to take 10 minutes to learn this simple skill and be ready to save a life.
Jerry Vauk: While riding my bike to work in 2008, I suffered a sudden cardiac arrest. An electrical arrhythmia caused my heart to stop. I was lying on the sidewalk without a pulse and was not breathing. A passerby stopped and immediately started CPR, while another called 911. She performed CPR on me for more than four minutes until she finally heard the approaching sirens. The EMTs used a defibrillator to regain a pulse. Those four minutes before 911 responders arrived were absolutely critical for the full recovery I experienced. I am grateful that a passerby stopped. I am grateful she was trained in CPR and not afraid to help. Without CPR during those crucial first minutes, my outcome would have been very different, not only for me, but for my family and my two young sons, as well.
Olaf Roepke: On a Sunday afternoon in March 2010, I was watching TV with my two kids when my heart stopped. My wife, Cristina, was next to me and started CPR with the help of 911 and a friend who had stopped by. They both worked on me until EMS arrived six minutes later. I went 42 minutes without a heartbeat. I received multiple shocks from a defibrillator. I was in a coma for nine days, out of the hospital in three weeks and back at my job in three months. Statistically, my chance of survival was about 1 percent; however, my wife and the friend being close to me and their willingness to start CPR saved me.
We all owe our lives to CPR and the willingness of a bystander to get involved. In honor of CPR Awareness Week, we’re asking everyone to “take 10” and learn the skills to save a life.
It takes just 10 minutes to learn compression-only CPR (uninterrupted chest presses, 100 a minute, in the middle of the chest).
This method is supported by the American Heart Association and has been touted in The New England Journal of Medicine as working just as well for adults as CPR with respiration.
We hope that sharing our stories will inspire you to take a few minutes to learn CPR.
To learn more about the Take 10 CPR program, call 512-978-0060 or visit www.takeheartaustin.org .