(WLNS) – Thanksgiving is just two days away so would you know what to do if a loved one chokes on food or has a heart attack?
The first step is to call 911.
But you need to know the next step.
It’s something that many people fear but its better to be prepared than afraid.
It was a normal day for Ed Kleehammer.
He woke up, got dressed for work and suddenly felt a sharp pain in his chest.
He thought the discomfort was the result of a shoulder injury but the pain was a symptom of a cardiac arrest.
That’s when Kleehammer got in his truck and drove four miles down the road to the Eaton Rapids Medical Center.
It was a drive that he will never forget; it was a drive that saved his life.
He walked into the Eaton Rapids Medical Center, requested help and blacked out.
“I’m forever grateful to them,” Kleehammer praised. “To all the people who took turns performing CPR on me and keeping me ventilated.”
The American Heart Association says nearly 300,000 people die every year from cardiac arrest.
Many of those lives could have been saved through “Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation”, also known as CPR.
Angela White is a registered nurse in the emergency department of the Eaton Rapids Medical Center and she remembers the day Kleehammer came in.
She says Kleehammer’s life was on the line and without the CPR.
“It would have been unfortunate. No other way to really put that, we probably would have lost Ed that day,” remembers White.
The emergency staff at the Eaton Rapids Medical Center says it’s important to know when it’s time to take action.
“Signs and symptoms would be an uneasy feeling. Feelings of indigestion,” explains registered nurse Barbara Parrott. “Feeling sweaty, light-headed, dizzy, short of breathe and chest pains.”
It took over 20 minutes to stabilize Kleehamer, and with so many pumps on the chest, and pressure, he also broke a couple of ribs.
“That’s a bigger reason why people won’t get involved is because they think, well, if I get involved I’m gonna hurt them and I don’t want to hurt them,” explains Red Cross instructor Brian Bristol. “But if you think the logic, if they’re already down clinically dead, you can’t hurt them anymore now. They’re dead.”
This is the point where you can step in and save a life.
And CPR is an easy skill to learn.
With quick and deep pumps on the chest you can stabilize someone under cardiac.
How is it done?
Place your palm on the victim’s chest, interlock your fingers and push to the rhythm of the Bee Gees song “Staying Alive”.
Another lifechanging skill is the Heimlech Maneuver.
It is done to help someone when they are choking.
If the person that you’re with is doing this (holding their throat), which is the universal sign for choking, and making no sounds then immediate assistance is needed,” explains Suzy Carter, executive director of the Lansing Area Safety Council.
Carter says if someone is coughing or wheezing leave them alone.
That is a sign that air is still circulating but if the person has completely lost their breath “We’re gonna locate the belly button, make a fist right above the belly button, alright and we’re gonna push in and up.”
Whether it’s the Heimlich Maneuver or CPR when it comes to saving a life Ed Kleehammer says words cannot describe how thankful he is that somebody saved his.
“By saving a life you may make some other family happy and make a difference,” says a grateful Kleehammer.