It was a balmy 89 degrees with picturesque paradise all around. Michelle Shaw, Mt. Vernon Community School Corporation’s Nurse, was enjoying the serene waters when she saw a man face-down in the ocean and two guys running towards him. Training, adrenalin and experience kicked in as she hurried toward the person in need of help.
After two men and Shaw pulled the stout 60-70 year-old man to the shore, Shaw started compressions immediately. The eerie blue-gray color of the man did not leave much hope for survival in her mind.
Another man who spoke Spanish was there to help with the breathing portion of CPR. Shaw was concerned a language barrier might be an issue to work together, but they were able to effectively perform CPR together.
Performing CPR in the first six minutes is imperative to give victims a better chance of survival. On average, it takes the emergency vehicles about six minutes to drive and administer to the victim. According to the American Heart Association, effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, but only 32% of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.
It is essential more of the public be knowledgeable on how to perform CPR; as Shaw found out the knowledge can be needed anywhere. Mt. Vernon is helping with the educational outreach by requiring all high school students receive CPR training.
As Shaw finished her first round of compressions, a French-speaking man came to help for round two. The victim’s eyes were open, there was no pulse and no breathing; the color of the man was still eerie blue-gray. After a few rounds of CPR a woman with a watch checked his pulse, which proved to be strong. Shaw continued with rescue breathing, which led the victim to spit a little water out and take some gasps of breath.
Shaw provided rescue breathing a little longer as the victim was still not getting enough air. The victim then turned his head and started breathing on his own. The ambulance and local professionals arrived to take the victim to the hospital where he stayed for two days. It was later revealed that the victim was from Ontario, Canada and had previously had open-heart surgery.
Shaw, who was formerly a firefighter and an EMT, is also a certified CPR instructor and has her Registered Nurse degree. “It is so incredibly important that more of the public, teens included, be trained on how to perform CPR. I recently knew of a situation where someone had cardiac arrest in a restaurant, and no one knew CPR except for a teen that was there. The teen saved the victim’s life. I am looking forward to training all Mt. Vernon High School students on CPR.”
All Mt. Vernon High School students have a 90 minutes devoted to learning CPR in health class. Every student will have a chance to practice CPR on mannequins. If the student is performing compressions successfully, the mannequin’s chest will make a pop sound.
Although students will not receive CPR certification, the knowledge itself can be powerful enough to save a life. Mt. Vernon High School does offer full CPR certification and other certifications in the life-guarding class.
In Indiana, when teachers renew their license they now have to be CPR certified. All Mt. Vernon school nurses are CPR certified and also have healthcare certification.