This is National Heart Month and at least two people at UW-Washington County can offer solid testimonials on why everyone should take a course on CPR.
“I didn’t have a choice but to jump into action,” said Cherie Hart, an associate lecturer in music at UW-Washington County.
The scenario that occurred the first day of this semester played out in Hart’s second-floor office at UWWC. “It was January 25 and one of my students was in my office and he started convulsing and lost consciousness,” Hart said.
Within a minute, Hart started CPR. “I was by myself, I looked in the halls twice and there was nobody around.”
Hart’s student, Jerry Williams, is taking her Fundamentals in music course. He suffers from ventricular fibrillation.
“I retired about five years ago but taught traditional shop and tech-ed,” Williams said. “I find it ironic I’ve taught electronics for 34 years and I have some faulty wiring.”
Hart is small in stature and Williams is well over 6-feet tall.
“I needed somebody to help me get him onto the ground to properly do CPR,” she said. “The third time I looked out there was a kid, Tyler Schulz, walking by. We got Jerry on the ground so I could really do compressions.”
It was about 25 years ago Hart took a CPR class from the Red Cross.
“I don’t know why but it stuck,” she said. “It’s not hard to do but I just remembered it.”
For someone who has spent a career in music, Hart was quickly able to discern the situation.
“When he first lost consciousness I wasn’t sure what was going on but then he turned greenish grey and I knew he didn’t have long,” she said. “I called 9-1-1 and they said I had to get him on the ground to do it (the compressions) properly.”
With the help of Schultz, the two got Williams on the ground and Hart started chest compressions; that was enough to get Williams color back. “The dispatcher stayed on the phone with us,” said Hart, alternating between breaths and chest compressions.
Schultz raced to waive the rescue crews to the correct door and brought them to the office.
“This was the first time I put my CPR training into practice,” said Hart.
Once the emergency crews arrived, they slid Williams into the hall, took over compressions, shocked him twice and the second time was enough to bring him back.
Reflecting on the experience Hart said, “I feel like parts of me are still on the floor.”
Williams, who remembers little about the incident, was back in class by the end of the week.
“He said thanks many times,” said Hart. “Taking a CPR class should be mandatory. Knowing how to do CPR gave me something to do instead of standing there helpless.”
Hart is using the situation as a catalyst and offering extra credit to any of her students that take a CPR class.
Photo courtesy Joan Williams