Jennifer Zanganeh was busy shepherding young roller-skaters at her daughter’s 10th birthday party recently in Southern California when she heard her friend scream a troubling question: “He’s not breathing?”
That was when she saw the young boy, lying on the roller-rink floor, unresponsive with blood coming out of his nose.
Zanganeh ran out to help her friend – a nurse –who had started giving CPR to the boy. Zanganeh works in the American Heart Association’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care department – the department that teaches CPR to millions of people every year – and is herself trained in the lifesaving skill.
Zanganeh’s friend had given about five chest compressions by the time Jennifer arrived to relieve her. Zanganeh put her hands on the center of his chest and started chest compressions, while saying a silent prayer. As she counted to 30, all she thought about were the four words she repeats with her daily work: “Do the quality compressions! Do the quality compressions.”
Within seconds, the boy started responding. After a few minutes of trying to keep the child still, EMS arrived and took over and the boy was taken to the hospital.
“When I felt his heartbeat … it was indescribable,” Zanganeh said of the mid-September rescue.
The boy was lucky that a pair of lifesavers jumped in to perform CPR. It’s often not the case in out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, but it makes a huge difference, doubling or tripling the odds of survival. That’s a promising stat considering that there are more than 326,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the U.S.
For Zanganeh – who had never been called on to use her important skills before the incident reinforces the importance of knowing the two simple steps of Hands-Only CPR: Call 911 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest until paramedics arrive.
“Empower people to know what to do, even if it’s to call 911 or give compressions, just do something!” she said.