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Calm During the Storm: Off-Duty EMT Saves Baby’s Life With CPR

Awakened from a deep sleep by a frantic father, EMT’s strength of mind and skill prevails

When Brent Cinberg was awakened by screaming and a loud knock at his door at 4:45 p.m. on  Sept. 8, 2017, he had no idea what to expect. An EMT for the EMS Division of the Elizabeth Fire Department in Elizabeth, New Jersey, Brent worked nights and usually slept from 9 a.m. until 4 or 5 in the afternoon.

When a pajama-clad Brent opened his door in a sleep-filled haze, he was stunned to see his neighbor holding his 3-month old daughter, who was cyanotic and essentially lifeless. Several other neighbors flanked the terrified father, who handed his daughter to Brent, begging him to save her.

The Elizabeth EMS team doesn’t perform pediatric CPR on a daily basis, and Brent himself hadn’t worked on a child in over a month. He also lacked the usual resources. “I had nothing,” he said. “No backpack and no partner. So I immediately went through the textbook steps in my mind and told my neighbors to call the cavalry.”

An engine arrived first, allowing Brent to put the baby on oxygen while continuing CPR. In less than three minutes, his coworkers arrived via ambulance. Brent placed the baby on a stretcher while describing to paramedics what had transpired. Still critical, the baby was transported to a nearby hospital. Once stabilized, she was transferred to a specialized children’s hospital for further treatment. Today, thanks to Brent’s intervention, the child is healthy with no long-term cognitive deficits.

How was Brent, who was awoken from a deep sleep, able to remain calm enough to treat the child while surrounded by frantic neighbors? First, a sense of calmness was instilled in him from an early age. His father is an ear, nose and throat surgeon, and his mother, a teacher, is also a volunteer firefighter. Brent was also a lifeguard as a teenager. “Because of all of that, I think I have a better sense of being calm in tense situations than the average Joe,” he said.

Ultimately, Brent said, it came down to confidence in his training. “I’ve done so many calls and have seen for myself that CPR works,” he said. “So when I was in a situation that wasn’t run-of-the-mill like this one, I was prepared because I believed in my training.”

Brent encourages everyone to have at least a basic knowledge of CPR. “The more people who can perform CPR, the better it is for society as a whole,” he said. “It’s one of those things in life that you don’t necessarily think you need until you do — but then you’re so happy that you took the time to learn something that can be so powerful.”

 

 

 

 

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Tragedy Transformed: Nurse Turns Teenage Loss Into Life-Saving Opportunity

Nurse uses CPR to save a teen who experienced sudden cardiac arrest at a track meet

Click here to watch the full story

Angie Knannlein-Rahman was a high school senior when a soul-crushing event changed the course of her life. She and her friend Adrienne were jogging during volleyball practice when Adrienne commented that she felt a sudden head rush, hitting her head as she dropped to the ground. Angie yelled for help, holding Adrienne as she gasped for air.

“I thought that hitting her head was her biggest problem,” said Angie. “It never crossed my mind that her heart had stopped.” Their coach performed CPR, but Adrienne ultimately passed away, three days after her 16th birthday. “Adrienne sustained a brain injury because we didn’t help her fast enough, and I carry that with me,” said Angie. “We lost precious moments that day.”

When Angie returned home from school the day of Adrienne’s cardiac arrest, she relayed to her mom the feeling of helplessness she felt while holding Adrienne in her arms. “My mom told me that maybe I was meant to be someone in action who could help, like a nurse,” said Angie.

She took those words to heart, and today, Angie is a registered nurse at Mercy Health ‒ St. Charles Hospital in Oregon, Ohio. And when her life-saving CPR skills were needed at a recent track and field event where she’s also a coach, Angie didn’t hesitate to act.

Adam, a 17-year-old athlete, experienced sudden cardiac arrest during the event. He was turning blue as Angie, along with another nurse and a physician assistant, began chest compressions while waiting for the automated external defibrillator (AED) to arrive, which took seven to 10 minutes because trainers were unsure of its location.

With the use of the AED, Adam began to regain consciousness and fully came around in the ambulance. Many event attendees were surprised that an AED was on-site. “We need to improve the culture of understanding the important role that AEDs play,” said Angie.

Angie’s journey as a nurse and being able to help save patients like Adam has brought her full circle from Adrienne’s passing. It’s something she thinks about often, particularly when she renews her ACLS and BLS training through the American Heart Association. “You are beating someone’s heart for them, and that’s such a tremendous responsibility,” said Angie. “If you’re going to do it, you have to do it correctly. This situation — to get to see Adam have a life, be healthy and flourish from that — is a reward that I can’t even explain.”

Are you a nurse? Send us your save stories to monica.sales@heart.org

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CPR Training as a Business: How being her own boss affords one trainer her best life

American Heart Association instructor Tamara McLaughlin owns and operates her own training business in Vermont. The CPR & First Aid Blog sat down with her to chat about how she does it.

Q: Tamara, what is your background?

A: I began my career training medical assistants across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont 24 years ago. One day, my boss informed me that I would start training physicians in CPR, which at that time I knew nothing about! It was intimidating, but I went through the classes and became an instructor with the American Red Cross.

After a couple of years, I decided to teach American Heart Association coursework instead because I felt it gave a better understanding of high-quality CPR. Once I switched, the feedback I received from my students was overwhelmingly positive. That’s when I knew that I was on to something and decided to go into business for myself.

Q: Would you tell us about your business journey?

A: My company is called VT SafeyNet Inc., and I teach the Association’s BLS and all Heartsaver courses, including Heartsaver First Aid, CPR AED and Bloodborne Pathogens. I began simply: I designed and printed my business cards and mailed them to local doctor and dentist offices that had smaller staffs, which meant they were likely to not have internal training. This was a side job for more than 10 years, but eventually through networking at trade shows and client referrals I began to be hired by larger firms with regular needs. That’s when I switched to doing this full-time.

I’ve been working for myself full-time for nine years now; I train about 2,500 students a year. It works best for me because that it allows me to set my own hours and, as such, I’m able to strike that work-life balance. I feel like I’m leading my best life.

Q: What do you believe is the secret of your success, so to speak?

A: I emphasize being enthusiastic, engaging, and utilizing humor to make the material less intimidating. I train people from all walks of life—from construction workers to hospital Chief Medical Officers. The most important thing is to customize my delivery of the material to serve how each person learns.

Q: Finally, tell us why the American Heart Association is your choice?

A: The Association teaches the science behind its material. When students ask me questions in class, I want to be able to fully answer them as opposed to providing routine talking points. The Association provides you everything you need to know. For my business, this put me miles ahead.

Thank you, Tamara, for speaking with us and for being such a dedicated American Heart Association advocate!

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Coffee, Croissants, and CPR: Quick action from bystanders saves a life in Pennsylvania

Coffee, Croissants, and CPR
Quick action from bystanders saves a life in Pennsylvania

For Stacey Sassaman and Lloyd Emelle, it was a day like any other. They were visiting Stacey’s brother in Westchester, PA and decided to spend a quiet afternoon at the neighborhood coffee shop. The two took up seats next to an elderly man who seemed to be sitting and quietly daydreaming to himself. After a while the man, Joe, fell asleep in his armchair. Stacey, a medical student, noticed his sleep seemed erratic and his breathing uneven, so she and Lloyd opted to keep an eye on him.

Almost an hour later, Joe’s breathing appeared to be getting heavier and he was struggling. “At this time we were increasingly concerned about his symptoms,” explains Lloyd, a former lifeguard. “Stacey went to alert the baristas that he might need help, and I began to mentally prepare myself for the possibility that I may need to perform CPR. That’s when I saw him stop breathing.”

Lloyd and Stacey immediately jumped into action. Lloyd cleared the surrounding furniture as Stacey checked for a pulse. Right as she found it, it disappeared. They moved Joe to the floor, and Stacey began to perform Hands-Only CPR. The barista Stacey had spoken to called 9-1-1.

Stacey and Lloyd performed Hands-Only CPR for almost 4 minutes until the paramedics arrived and took over. Once his pulse was restored, Joe was transported to a local hospital where he recovered.

“Speaking of the experience now seems surreal,” shares Lloyd. “I’m an Eagle Scout. It’s my mindset to be ready for anything, though I never expected something like this. I learned CPR growing up in Houston. My mom enrolled me in a city program for disadvantaged kids where I learned how to swim and eventually trained to be a lifeguard.”

“Not everyone needs to be an EMT, doctor, etc.,” added Stacey, who is studying to be an OBGYN. “But everyone should know the basics. One of the most alarming parts of this experience was, when Joe stopped breathing, everyone else in the cafe froze. I asked the barista if they had an AED, but he didn’t know how to respond. If Lloyd and I hadn’t been there, it’s likely no one would have been able to help.”

This is why Stacey, who is trained in BLS and ACLS, so strongly recommends the American Heart Association training—not just for medical professionals but for everyone.

“My training through the Association was great,” concludes Stacey. “What made it so effective is that it wasn’t just a lecture, but rather a hands-on experience. You don’t want to have to stop and think when seconds really count. I have no doubt that my training was critical to saving that man’s life.”

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Kurt’s Story

Most people who experience cardiac arrest at home, work, or in a public location die because they don’t receive immediate CPR from someone on the scene. It’s important to remember that as a bystander, your actions can only help. When someone collapsed at his workplace, Kurt wasn’t afraid to step in and perform CPR until emergency help arrived.
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HeartCode PALS Demo Video

The American Heart Association’s HeartCode PALS Course, web-based and accessible 24 hours a day, provides a flexible, blended alternative to traditional classroom training. This online instructional program uses eSimulation technology to allow students to assess and treat pediatric patients in virtual healthcare settings. In this environment, students apply their knowledge to real-time decision-making and skills development. The goal of the PALS Course is to improve the quality of care provided to seriously ill or injured children, resulting in improved outcomes. After completing the online portion, students attend a hands-on session to test their skills with an AHA Instructor or on a voice-assisted manikin (VAM).
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HeartCode BLS Demo Video

The American Heart Association’s HeartCode BLS uses the latest eSimulation technology to enable students to assess and treat patients in virtual healthcare settings. Utilizing a variety of eLearning assets such as dramatizations, eSimulations, animations, self-directed learning, and interactive activities, this course teaches BLS knowledge and skills. This method of learning provides training consistency, adaptability to different learning styles, and flexibility for the student’s and employer’s time. Students can work at their own pace applying their knowledge to real-time decision making and skills development. After completing the online portion, students attend a hands-on session to test their skills with an AHA Instructor or on a voice-assisted manikin (VAM).
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HeartCode ACLS Demo Video

The American Heart Association’s HeartCode ACLS Course, web-based and accessible 24 hours a day, provides a flexible, blended alternative to traditional classroom training. This online instructional program builds on the foundation of lifesaving BLS and uses the latest eSimulation technology to enable students to assess and treat patients in virtual healthcare settings. Students apply their knowledge to real-time decision making and skills development, and receive debriefings and coaching immediately after each simulation. After completing the online portion, students attend a hands-on session to test their skills with an AHA Instructor or on a voice-assisted manikin (VAM).
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Justin’s Story

One day while playing in his backyard, a ball hit Justin in the chest in the exact location, at the exact millisecond of his heart’s rhythm, to send his heart into a fatal rhythm. This is a condition known as commotio cordis, a type of cardiac arrest. Thankfully, Justin’s friends and family acted quickly instead of freezing in fear.
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Shared Moments 3 (Video)

Every second counts in cardiac arrest, which can strike at any time. This powerful video from the American Heart Association and Anthem Foundation shows how a bystander can perform Hands-Only CPR and be the difference for someone they love.