Man who finished AHA CPR course a week before saves his friend's life


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Sudden cardiac arrest happens unexpectedly and without warning. A person loses consciousness and has no pulse seconds later. If the victim is not treated, he or she will die within minutes. Most patients with cardiac arrest can be saved if they are treated quickly. Take this story of a woman who saved her zumba instructor from a cardiac arrest.


On January 9, 2014, Nan Martin attended her friend Adela Alvarez, zumba class. She went to Alvarez's Thursday night session for the first time because she regularly attended her class on Monday nights.


In addition to working as a high school Spanish teacher, Alvarez taught at least five Zumba classes every week. Alvarez decided to give the pupils a water break halfway through the class.


She was merely resting against the wall, sipping water, when she said to Martin, "I don't feel well." Then she abruptly passed out.


Martin, who had just completed her AHA CPR course a week before, checked Alvarez's pulse right away while another student dialed 911. Martin found a slight pulse and administered two rescue breaths to Alvarez.


Martin took another look at her pulse. There was no sign of life. The dispatcher, who was still on the phone at the moment, instructed Martin to begin compressions and stayed on the line to assist her.


Martin sang "Stayin' Alive" while administering CPR, which provides the ideal tempo for chest compressions. Rescuers should apply 100 to 120 compressions per minute to the chest when performing CPR.


Martin was astounded by the adrenaline — the entire adrenaline rush. She knew what she needed to do, because performing CPR on a manikin is very different from performing CPR on a real person.


Before emergency help arrived at the church, which is located in a remote region, Martin administered CPR for nearly 25 minutes. Three to four nearby communities' first responders arrived. The paramedics took Alvarez to the hospital. There, the paramedics shocked her heart five times.


Alvarez started to come out of her coma roughly 45 days after her cardiac arrest.


Alvarez was in the hospital for nearly three months. She attributes her survival and recovery to her trust in God, prayers from family and friends, and thanks.


Alvarez was honored with the Zumba Fitness Inspiration Award at the Zumba convention in Orlando later that year. At the event, Alvarez's story motivated a nurse who was also a Zumba instructor, and she helped lead efforts to teach CPR to Zumba instructors. Instructors are now taught CPR during the annual convention.