By: Alison Dunn Feb 09, 2010
  Editorial

I often wonder if I could perform CPR on someone I love or if I’d just panic and completely forget what to do.

You have to admit, it would be a pretty stressful situation to watch someone suffer a heart attack and feel powerless to help. And, since 80 per cent of cardiac arrests occur at home, it’s more than likely the person suffering is someone you know and love.

That’s one reason why it’s so important everyone learn CPR. (If you want to know more, check out our article “Learn CPR… stat!” this week on Primacy Life.) But to me, that’s just part of the reason you need to learn it.

That panic factor is another very good reason. If you’ve learned CPR off by heart and practiced it at least once a year, you’re far less likely to panic when someone you love is suffering. You’re more likely to be clear-headed enough to get them the help they need. After all, according to the experts, starting CPR is the first thing you should do after you call 9-1-1.

It’s that whole idea of practice makes perfect. You’ve learned CPR by heart, to use a bad pun, therefore you can save someone else. It’s almost a no-brainer, considering both the Red Cross and St. John Ambulance offer affordable and convenient classes. So why haven’t you taken one yet?

And there’s the real crux of the issue. Okay, I admit it – I haven’t taken one either. Oh, sure, I learned it in high school Phys Ed, and took a course on infant CPR when I was pregnant with my first child, but otherwise, I’m as clueless as the next person.

Why haven’t I taken one yet? Like all of us, time is a huge factor for me. We’re all so busy these days with work, families, our hobbies and all those other things that seem to suck up our time. When I finally have a free weekend, the last thing I want to do is spend it at a course.

These are all excuses – and poor excuses at that. A friend recently lost her husband from a heart attack, which was a big wake-up call. My husband is in his early 40s, and with a history of heart disease in his family, he could be the one who needs my help. Can I imagine my life without him? Absolutely not. Can I sacrifice a few hours to take a CPR course that would save his life? Why, that’s not really a sacrifice at all.

In fact, with February being heart health month, now is the perfect time to get that CPR certification – and renew it every February from now on. As soon as I’m done writing this, I’m going to call my local chapter of St. John Ambulance and sign both myself and my husband up for a course ASAP.

After all, the heart I get pumping again could be the nearest and dearest to my own.

A journalist with more than 10 years experience, Alison’s work has appeared in a number of top Canadian publications, including glow, Oxygen, Canadian Running and more. She is the former editor of a number of well-respected Canadian and American trade journals and recipient of a Kenneth R. Wilson Gold Award of Excellence in feature article writing. She is a part-time faculty member at Sheridan College’s journalism department, as well as an avid runner and fitness enthusiast.