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Heart-smart teen saves a life.

I really like to run. I run track at school and about two years ago I started running in long-distance races.

On October 22, 1994, I ran in the 5-kilometer (3.1-mile) fun race at Arkansas State University. My mom and dad were running, too.

A man and his daughter were also in the race. I would pass them and then they would pass me - it went back and forth like a friendly competition. Well, about two-and-a-half miles into the race, I saw a crowd up ahead and the daughter was standing there screaming.

I sprinted ahead to see what was wrong. When I got there, I saw that her father had collapsed. He was starting to swallow his tongue and turn purple. It was really scary. The daughter started screaming: "Doesn't anybody here know CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation]?" Nobody said anything. I was the only kid there and I didn't want to look stupid. But when she asked again, I went right and got started. I had learned CPR in Girl Scouts when I was in 3rd or 4th grade. My leader was a nurse for the American Red Cross. I just took CPR to earn a badge. I never thought I would actually use it.

The hardest part was getting the man's mouth open. His teeth were clenched so tightly that my mom and another runner had to help me. Once we got his mouth open, I started doing rescue breathing. I didn't feel nervous. I just got right to work.

But I was worried that I would have to do chest compressions if his heart stopped beating. Fortunately, he still had a pulse. So I did rescue breathing for about two minutes. It seemed like an eternity. I had no idea what was going on around me. Then the paramedics arrived and asked me to step aside.

When they gave the man shock treatment I knew his heart must have stopped. The electrical shock jerked his body two inches off the ground. I was so scared I sprinted off and finished the race.

Word spread really fast. By the time I got to the finish line, people were saying, "You're the girl who saved that man!" But my legs were quivering and I just started crying and couldn't stop. My mom caught up with me and tried to calm me down.

The man was rushed to the hospital. I learned later that he needed surgery to clear out the clogged arteries in his heart. His name is Dr. John Baker, and he's fine now. He still runs.

I didn't get to meet Dr. B until about two months later when Rescue 911 came to film an episode We met at a restaurant, and I walked in and gave him a hug.

We don't see each other very often because he lives far from me. But he came to visit me in the hospital when I got my appendix removed in January. We saw each other at the Arkansas State race again this year. I didn't run this time, but he did.

I wouldn't say that I feel like a hero. But I felt pretty grateful that I knew what to do. I think everyone should know CPR. You never know when somebody might really need you.


The Beat Goes On...

Take a one-minute breather from science class and count to 60. One one-thousand, two one-thousand... What has your body done during that minute? Read on.

Your heart has thumped about 80 times and pumped about 5 liters (5 quarts) of blood.

Your blood has traveled through your entire circulatory system - from your heart to your lungs, back to your heart, to the rest of the body, and back to your heart again.

About 150 million red blood cells have died and about 32 million platelets, blood-cell fragments important for clotting, have been removed by the splee.

Your lung have inhaled and exhaled 12 to 16 times, breathing in about 6 liters (6 quarts) of air, or about 250 milliliters (8 fluid ounces) of oxygen. You've also breathed out about 200 milliliters (6 fluid ounces) of carbon dioxide.

Your brain has used about 54 milligrams (0.002 ounces) of glucose (sugar) and about 40 milliters (2.5 cubic inches) of oxygen for energy.



What is CPR? CPR is short for cardiopulmonary resuscitation - a combination heart/lung (cardio for the heart, pulmonary for the lungs) lifesaving procedure. CPR forces the lungs to keep breathing" and the blood to keep "circulating" when the heart has stopped.

Is that the same as mouth-to-mouth resuscitation? Mouth-to-mouth, or "rescue breathing,' is only the "pulmonary" part of CPR. If a collapsed person has stopped breathing, rescue breathing adds a tiny amount of oxygen to the lungs. Mouth-to-mouth may be enough to save someone if only breathing has stopped. But if the victim's heart has stopped, too (i.e., there is no pulse), then rescuers have to add the "cardio" part of CPR.

What's the "cardio" part of CPR? To keep the blood moving when someone's heart has stopped, rescuers perform "chest compressions" in addition to rescue breathing. Repeatedly pushing down on the victim's chest compresses the heart between the sternum (breastbone) and the backbone. The compressions push a small amount of blood through the circulatory system.

What makes the heart stop? Drowning, electrical shock, a massive heart attack, or a drug overdose can cause the heart's pumping chambers - the ventricles - to contract rapidly and irregularly. These chaotic contractions (called ventricular fibrillation) can't pump blood to the rest of the body - or to the heart itself. Without adequate blood flow (i.e., without oxygen) the heart stops.

Does CPR restart the heart? No. But rescue breathing and chest compressions can keep some blood and oxygen circulating until help arrives. That's important because without oxygen, your body's cells-especially those in your brain - begin to die. In general, 6 to 10 minutes without oxygen causes brain damage.

How can you restart a stopped heart? Since the heartbeat is triggered by electrical impulses, doctors can use an electrical current to restart its normal rhythm. Defibrillator paddles - the kind you see used on every episode of ER - send a surge of electricity through the heart. To avoid shocking others, the docs always yell, "Clear!" Restarting the heart depends on a quick response. With each passing minute, the chance of revival drops 10 percent.

Is CPR on TV real thing? Not exactly. Doctors say that fictional TV dramas and re-enactments can't begin to show what CPR is like in real life. Some doctors object to the way CPR is shown on TV. They think these shows may encourage someone to do CPR incorrectly. Though any attempt at CPR is better than doing nothing, it's best to learn the right way.

How can I learn to do CPR the right way? Anyone can learn CPR. A local chapter of the American Red Cross or American Heart Association, a YMCA/YWCA, and some schools offer CPR courses that can take as little as one day. The class teaches when and how to do CPR properly. You will practice the techniques on a mannequin.
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Title Annotation:includes related questions and answers on CPR; with cardio-pulmonary resuscitation
Author:Shearman, Stephanie
Publication:Science World
Article Type:Cover Story
Date:Dec 6, 1996
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