My name is Emily and I am currently one of the winter interns for the Start the Heart Foundation. I was thrilled when I found out I had been selected for the position. When I applied I was looking for something educational and rewarding. It turns out Start the Heart was exactly what I was looking for. In a nutshell, I’ve spent the past three weeks traveling to high schools in the Louisville area to teach hands-only CPR and its importance.
Sometimes we find it challenging to keep the students’ attention for the entirety of the class, which is why we like to create real life scenarios they can put themselves in and understand the seriousness of the situation. We create a scenario that involves one of their parents having a cardiac arrest. We explain to the students that they would be the first ones on the scene to act and help their parents if they were to go down while at home. After repeating this scenario to the classes week after week it began to strike home for me.
I did not get the chance to meet either of my grandfathers because they passed before I was born from different kinds of heart disease. One of them died from coronary artery disease and one died from congestive heart failure. I still do not know the specifics of their conditions, or whether someone tried to give them CPR at the time. What I found the most fascinating and thought provoking was after 20+ years since their deaths CPR is still the publics best and only defense for those that suffer or go down from a heart attack or cardiac arrest. Maybe over the years the number, depth, and speed of compressions has changed and whether or not mouth-to-mouth is necessary has changed, but the general concept has not. CPR is pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest essentially acting as the person’s heart.
This unchanging idea about CPR makes me curious why an organization like the Start the Heart Foundation had not been created earlier. Before Start the Heart, the only people getting any kind of experience with CPR were those people that needed it for their jobs. Educating the general public about how to respond in these situations and how to perform CPR is the next best thing we can do to help with the survival for those people that experience a cardiac arrest. The teaching program Start the Heart has created is a great first step in the right direction, and I am thankful to have had the opportunity to give my time to the foundation and educate students in CPR.