July 4th could have ended in tragedy for Frank Elam and his family.
That evening, in the critical minutes between the time Elam lost consciousness while taking a swim with his wife, son and other family member at the Microtel Inn in Starkville and the arrival of EMTs, a Starkville police officer, assisted by an inn employer, offered care that may have saved his life.
Today, that policeman, Lane McTaggert, and the inn employee, Etta Hall, are considered heroes, not for some act of superhuman strength or medical knowledge, but because of simple training available to almost anyone. It’s called Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, more commonly referred to as CPR.
Officer McTaggert learned CPR as a standard part of his police training. Hall learned CPR through training through a dental assistant program. For both, the incident was their first time to perform CPR in a real emergency situation.
Such medical emergencies can come at any time and any place, and first-responders are generally not on the scene immediately. That’s why CPR training is important for everyone. The minutes are precious in these situations. It can not only mean the difference between life and death, but mitigate permanent damage caused by the medical emergency. This is particularly true when it relates to cardiac failures — heart attacks. The compression technique that is the primary training of CPR keeps the blood flowing to the organs. The longer the blood flow to those organs, the greater risk of permanent damage, especially to brain function.
Given the importance of knowing CPR, it is a skill everyone should learn.
CPR classes are widely available through hospitals, clinics, schools and youth organizations such as scouting or 4-H.
You can also earn CPR certification through a variety of online courses, which cost little. In fact, many CPR training classes are free. On average, the training takes about three hours, tops.
CPR classes are not difficult to find, costly or time-consuming.
Consider that the only thing worse than seeing someone in need for CPR is the desperate, helpless feeling of not being able to perform it.
We encourage everyone to seek this training. Some of us — as was the case with Officer McTaggert and Hall — may some day be eternally grateful to have learned these simple life-saving CPR techniques.
The Dispatch Editorial Board is made up of publisher Peter Imes, columnist Slim Smith, managing editor Zack Plair and senior newsroom staff.
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