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Letter to the editor: Need to learn CPR driven home by family experience

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As the grassroots advocacy director with the American Heart Association, I advocate for policies that improve cardiovascular health — things like smoke-free air, research funding, access to automated external defibrillators and learning CPR. I am passionate about our mission and its positive impact in our communities.

However, I never imagined that it would become so personal. On May 14, my dad was driving to his office in the rural town where he lives. Without warning, my dad suddenly realized something was very wrong.

He tried to guide his vehicle to the side of the street but ended up on someone’s lawn. An off-duty emergency medical technician saw his vehicle and acted immediately.

She recognized my dad wasn’t breathing, and his heart had stopped. Without hesitation, she had someone call 911 and started CPR. Within minutes, police officers arrived with an AED, and they were able to restart my dad’s heart. With the help of emergency medical personnel, doctors and nurses, my dad’s life was saved. The following weekend he experienced the high school graduation of three of his grandchildren.

Anyone 12 years and older can, and should, learn hands-only CPR. During the 2013 legislative session, North Dakota legislators supported CPR training in our schools with the hope that every school, public and private, will take an important step to include CPR skills training into existing curriculum and utilize the funding. By doing so, North Dakota is training the next generation of life savers. A shout out to the schools that have already become CPR Smart, and I encourage others to follow their lead. With national CPR week June 1-7, I ask that you use this opportunity — and my Dad’s experience — to take a minute to learn Hands Only CPR at heart.org/handsonlycpr. You never know whose life it may save.

(Miller is regional grassroots advocacy director for North Dakota, South Dakota and Nebraska for the American Heart Association)

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