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CPR training and quick access to defibrillators can save lives - Tawnya’s story

Why cpr training and defibrillators are vital
Why cpr training and defibrillators are vital

Tawnya Reynolds wanted to go for a run because she was preparing for her first marathon.

Billy, her husband, persuaded her to stay at home and work out with him at CrossFit.

It most likely saved her.

"Billy, I don't feel right," Tawnya stated abruptly as they were exercising in their backyard with their children, Carlie and Paige, nearby on their scooters.

Billy is a fire battalion chief, so he is used to dealing with crises. He started acting right away. He gave Tawnya two breaths because he was aware of her asthma attacks. He felt for a pulse when she began to go blue and gray and roll her eyes back in her head.

There weren't any. Her heart had stopped.

Tawnya stated, "So he immediately started CPR."

The girls laughed uncontrollably as their father beat on Tawnya's chest. The phone was ultimately located by the pool in the backyard by one of the girls who had run to collect it. "I think the most painful thing was that my neighbors, my kids, and my husband witnessed me dead in the driveway," Tawnya said. Billy dialed 911 while performing CPR with one hand.

When the paramedics arrived, around five minutes after they were called, Billy had been performing CPR on Tawnya for nearly fifteen minutes. Tawnya's legs were promptly treated with medication, and her heart was shocked when an automatic external defibrillator (AED) was connected.

Zero reaction.

So they gave it another shot. Her heart began to beat once again with the second shock.

Tawnya chatted while sitting up on the stretcher as they traveled to the hospital. She was speaking incomprehensibly.

It then took six days in the intensive care unit. She has no recollection of any of it. Well, other than a distinct memory of dying and being in a serene setting with deceased loved ones.

Tawnya underwent a plethora of cardiac tests despite the absence of any risk factors and a family history of heart disease.

She ate healthily, exercised, and didn't gain weight. Tawnya received an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) to monitor her heartbeat after the results were "absolutely clear." The device provides an electric shock to reestablish a normal heartbeat if an aberrant rhythm is found.

She added, "I called it Little Billy." He is constantly present in my chest, waiting for my call.

Three times now, she has needed "Little Billy."

Tawnya experienced severe dizziness on August 7 while addressing 200 American Heart Association employees. She excused herself briefly and recalled being startled, which she described as feeling like a punch or kick to the chest without the pain.

Since its inception more than 50 years ago, the American Heart Association has worked to improve CPR. In over 60 countries, the organization annually trains more than 15 million people. Anyone can save lives even without formal training by recalling the "Hands-Only CPR" steps: dial 9-1-1, then push firmly and quickly in the center of the chest, preferably to the beat of the iconic disco song "Stayin' Alive," until aid arrives.

"My main message is to learn CPR and work to place defibrillators in huge public spaces where people can access them because it really does save lives," the woman said. "I would be dead today if my husband hadn't been there, hadn't known how to perform rapid and successful CPR, and if there hadn't been a defibrillator," she said.

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