It was a day Sam Carrera will never forget. The Johnson County resident was bicycling on Sept. 14 when he suddenly collapsed, suffering cardiac arrest. No one in his group of friends knew CPR. But two nurses just happened to be crossing his path when they rushed to his rescue. The women, along with a large team of emergency medical professionals, saved his life. And on Wednesday night, he got the chance to thank them.
“I’m excited about being here today,” Carerra said before the event got underway at Johnson County Community College. “I have yet to meet the two nurses who saved my life.”
He presented the nurses with hugs and flowers after a brief introduction about the day he nearly died. He was joined by other survivors at the annual Johnson County HeartSafe Foundation Celebration. The event honors bystanders who performed CPR and/or deployed an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to save a life.
The sudden cardiac arrest survivors ranged in age from 30 to 66. If someone suffers from cardiac arrest in Johnson County, there is a 60% chance that a bystander would perform CPR. While this is better than the national average of 38%, this means more than one in three people in cardiac arrest won’t benefit from life-saving chest interventions from bystanders and must wait for professional help. This wait can mean the difference between life and death. In Johnson County, because 61% of sudden cardiac arrests occur in the home, if an individual is called on to give CPR in an emergency, it will most likely be an attempt to save the life of a loved one: a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend.
The celebration event showcased five cases of cardiac emergencies and the bystanders who came forward to start CPR.
Carerra says he’s developed a whole new appreciation for life. And his friends who were originally with him for that bike ride, now all know CPR. Carerra has even engaged his employer, which is now offering CPR training to all staff on a regular basis.
Every minute that goes by without CPR, chances of survival decrease by 10%. HandsOnly CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR and does not require mouth-to-mouth breathing. It can double or even triple a victim's chance of survival.
You can learn HandsOnly CPR at 5:30 p.m., May 7, in room 1075, in the Sunset Building at 11811 S. Sunset Drive, Olathe.
Learn more at jocoheartsafe.org/.