CPR – Know It When You Need It

If you were one of the 25 percent of Americans who have been in a situation where someone needed CPR, would you know what to do? During National CPR and AED Awareness Week (June 1-7) and throughout the year, the American Red Cross encourages people to take CPR/AED training to learn how to save a life.

The ability to perform CPR can make a lifesaving difference when someone suffers a cardiac or breathing emergency. Here are a few stories from people who now know how important that knowledge can be.

“Many years ago while I was in college, I volunteered as an assistant coach for the high school softball team,” Jane wrote. “I was watching a game on a hot and humid Iowa evening when suddenly there was a commotion in the dugout. The catcher had gone down. I had extensive Red Cross training so the coach asked me to help. The catcher was in trouble.

“Her breathing was very sporadic, so I started rescue breathing and asked for my head coach to call the fire rescue unit. Others helped cool her by providing shade. Her parents were standing over me, screaming and crying. I kept working until the rescue team took over ten minutes later. I had a sinking feeling that I was going to lose this little girl but thank God for miracles. She was able to make it to the hospital and survived. What would have happened without that Red Cross  training? Red Cross rocks!”

It was the opening day of the 2003 trout season in Pennsylvania when Rita used her Red Cross training to help save a life. She was at a lake with crowds of others fishing, when she heard a faint cry for help. “An older woman was sitting on a porch, the man next to her in obvious distress,” Rita said.

“I ran over and had two men help me get him to the ground. I didn’t know if there was any hope, but I unbuttoned his shirt and did three chest compressions. As I tilted his head back to give him a breath, he sucked air into his lungs and I saw life returning to his eyes and color come back into his skin. A few minutes later, responders arrived and he was in good hands. I have never needed my CPR training before that day or since, but will be forever grateful that I at least had the confidence to try.”

Teri used her training to save her grandson’s life. “Andrew was seven years old when he tried to catch a grape in his mouth. He caught it and we all clapped, but he didn’t reply,” Teri said. “He dropped to the ground and I jumped up and rolled him over. His lips were turning blue and he had the most terrifying look on his face. I was scared, but because of my training I didn’t panic.

“I checked his air way and there was no way to reach in and grab it, so I rolled him over and gave him two sharp blows between his shoulder blades. The grape didn’t budge so I gave him some abdominal thrusts and that grape shot out like a bullet. He gasped for air, grabbed me and held on so tightly, tears ran down both our faces. Thank you for teaching me all I know because it allowed me to hear my grandson say afterward ‘Grandma I couldn’t breathe. I love you grandma’. He is alive today because of the knowledge I learned in your CPR/First Aid training class. God Bless the American Red Cross.”


The Red Cross trains millions of people each year in CPR and AED and offers several training options, including a 30-minute Citizen CPR class which teaches Hands-Only CPR and full CPR training. All First Aid, full CPR and AED training carry a 2-year certification. You can find more information and register for a class by visiting the CPR and AED page on our web site.

In addition to training, the Red Cross can help you obtain an AED for your home, business or organization and offers AED program management, maintenance and service.

About the American Red Cross: The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies more than 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit redcross.org or join our blog at http://blog.redcross.org.

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