In Denver, Lisa Smith has been teaching CPR to students and coworkers for more than 20 years, sometimes offering training 30 times a year. She was frequently asked if she had ever given CPR in an emergency.
She would respond, "I hope I can just jump in if a scenario happens, especially because it's generally someone you know."
On November 20, 2014, that is precisely what occurred in the gym at Denver East High School.
As part of her curriculum, Smith includes HeartSaver CPR/AED/First Aid in her honors health and medical science subjects. She also serves as the institution's athletic director.
She arrived on campus that fateful morning at about 6 a.m. I had to keep an eye on the cheerleaders as they prepared tricks for a competition.
She happened to be in the assistant principal's office when she heard a disturbance in the corridor and went to investigate while both the doors to the gym and the hallway were open.
Assistant principal Wes Ashley passed out in the weight room, according to two security officers who were leaving their post. A different coworker had already dialed 911. At that point, Smith assumed control.
She gave the guards orders to retrieve the automated external defibrillator (AED) from the office's emergency cabinet. She hurried to the weight room after that. She claimed, "I thought he might not survive if I didn't do anything."
According to research, only 32% of people who experience sudden cardiac arrest receive good CPR from a bystander, despite the fact that doing so can significantly increase the victim's chances of surviving.
Lack of training, or discomfort about taking action, is an important reason. According to statistics, 70% of Americans may feel powerless to intervene in the event of a cardiac emergency because they either lack the knowledge necessary to do CPR or their training has lapsed significantly.
Smith knew exactly what to do because she is a certified CPR instructor.
Ashley was lying on the floor, his face bloodied from his fall, as Smith entered the gym. She swiftly checked for a pulse while rubbing his clavicle to see if he would respond.
There weren't any.
The AED arrived as she was about to begin chest compressions. She skipped over the previous procedure and immediately started applying the pads to Ashley's chest so the machine could assess his heartbeat. It gave Smith the command to shock someone.
She started compressions on his chest and started giving him breathing as soon as it was safe to touch him after the shock.
Until the AED told her to stop so it could assess his heart rhythm once more, she kept performing CPR. No shock was required this time. Smith could feel Ashley's pulse and observe his independent respiration.
Ashley was transported to the hospital by the paramedics, where he underwent two stent procedures to clear significant coronary artery blockages. A pacemaker was also given to him.
Smith stated in an email to the American Heart Association, "Many things went correctly that day."
Smith's life-saving deed became known across the campus. She was praised by academic staff, administrators, and students. Some also requested instruction or a review of their skills for saving lives.
According to Smith, the event served as a reminder to others to keep their skills up to date and to emphasize the value of regular training.
She asserted that the more training you have, the simpler it will be for you to act since you will be guided by instinct.