When my first child was born my CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) certification was only two years out-of-date. In that class, I learned more than just chest compressions and rescue breathing for infants, children, and adults. I also learned how to respond to choking victims and how to always, always call 9-1-1. My husband had also been recently certified and so I felt confident enough that we were equipped with the tools we needed should we (heaven forbid) experience a crisis with our newborn.
That was 2005.
After my second son was born in 2007, I suddenly found myself four years away from my previous certification. I recall thinking during some postpartum fog, “I should probably get re-certified in CPR and brush up on all that infant safety stuff.” Before I knew it, the year was 2010. But by that point, I surely knew enough about child safety because, after all, I was a mom. Of course, I still remembered what I had been taught in CPR class because that was when I still had a brain, before marriage and kids, and when I could retain important information.
Still, the fact that I wasn’t current in my CPR certification gnawed at my soul. But how in the world could I ever find the time or the money to complete the class? I surrounded myself with friends and sitters who were current in their knowledge. And so, I kept winging it.
There is a Huge Need.
Recently, my family and I visited Holiday World (a holiday-themed amusement park in Santa Claus, Indiana. Yes, out-of-staters, Santa Claus.) I was in line for the first ride of the day when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a little boy in distress. He was likely five years old and standing in the shade with his father and younger siblings. The boy appeared panicked as he looked out at nothing and then back at his father as he tried to cough, but couldn’t.
The child was choking.
I get chills even now as I write this. I had never seen someone truly choking. In desperation, the father started pounding on the boy’s back. I looked at my husband as he had now seen what was going on. Should we help? Could we help? This boy needed help. And then, from behind us, a man rushed over to the boy and gave one swift Heimlich maneuver, thrusting out the cube of ice that had been lodged in the child’s airway. The man left the scene as quickly as he came before he could be thanked by the father or congratulated by the bystanders.
I was ever so grateful for this man, his quick action, and for the life he saved.
Because of this incident, I decided that I would no longer “wing it.” That day I told myself that I would empower myself with a skill that, hopefully, I would never have to use. But I would be prepared. And so, for January 2019, I have enrolled in a CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator)/First Aid course. I told my husband to carve out those five hours for me. Get the kids where they need to be. Take care of dinner. And, for Christmas, I gifted myself the $60 registration fee.
It’s more than mom guilt that is propelling me to relearn CPR. Here are five reasons from the aed.org blog why I’m committing to re-certification:
CPR Saves Lives
According to the American Heart Association, more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occurred in 2016. 88% of people who suffer from a cardiac arrest outside of the hospital die.
The Life You Save May Be That of a Loved One
Did you know that four out of five cardiac arrests occur at home?
Prevent Brain Death
CPR effectively keeps blood flowing and provides oxygen to the brain and other vital organs, giving the victim a better chance for full recovery. If CPR is given within the first two minutes of cardiac arrest, the chances of survival double.
You’ll Feel Confident in the Event of A Cardiac Emergency
CPR certification will give you the necessary training to make the right decisions in the event of a cardiac emergency.
Join the 3 Percent
Less than 3% of the U.S. population receives CPR training, leaving many bystanders unprepared to respond to cardiac arrest.
If you are currently certified- Way to go, Mama! If you aren’t, I hope you’ll join me and make 2019 the year you get trained. If you work outside the home ask if your employer will sponsor work-place training or pay for your course. In Bloomington, two organizations that offer CPR/AED certification to the general public are the Monroe County YMCA (www.monroecountyymca.org) and Twin Lakes Recreation Center (https://bloomington.in.gov/parks/facilities/twin-lakes-recreation-center) Both offer numerous classes throughout the year. To find a class near you, you may also go to these websites: https://www.heart.org/en/cpr and https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/cpr
Did you know your child can get in on the action?
The American Heart Association does not have a minimum age requirement for learning CPR as the ability to perform CPR is based more on strength than age. Studies have shown that children as young as nine can learn and retain CPR skills. The Monroe County YMCA allows your twelve-year-old to enroll in CPR classes. In addition, the YMCA offers a “safe sitter” course for young people in grades 6-8, where participants learn childcare skills, safety skills, first aid, choking rescue and CPR (www.safesitter.org). And while my thirteen year old declared, “I will not change a diaper!” I still signed him up for the class which, at the time of this writing, he is completing (or suffering through with “eight girls and only two dudes”.) He came home from the first session saying, “It wasn’t the worst in the world,” and then gushed about how he knows how to save a choking infant.