Jeanne Forbeck was vacationing with her family in Myrtle Beach, S.C., in June when her husband, Charles, noticed a woman floating face down in the surf. As soon as he and another man pulled the lifeless body from the ocean, Mrs. Forbeck went to work giving the woman CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
CPR involves clearing air passages to the lungs, giving artificial respiration and providing chest compressions to restore breathing after cardiac arrest.
“Her color was gray and there was no response at all,” remembered Mrs. Forbeck, a parishioner of Ss. Peter and Paul in Cumberland and a registered nurse with the Western Maryland Health System.
“After a few moments she started coughing up water,” said Mrs. Forbeck. “I’ve never seen anyone have so much water pour out of them.”
The woman, a mother in her 30s who had been knocked over by a powerful wave, spent a few days in the hospital, but she was OK thanks to Mrs. Forbeck’s timely intervention.
“I’m glad I was able to help,” said Mrs. Forbeck. “Even though it happened months ago, it still makes me teary-eyed. I’m lucky it worked.”
Mrs. Forbeck said her story demonstrates the importance of learning CPR.
The procedure is not difficult to master, she said, and there are many community organizations that offer classes on the rescue technique.
“You never know when it could be your child, family member or someone in the street,” said Mrs. Forbeck. “You need to keep updated on it. It’s something that has to be reinforced.”
According to the American Heart Association, more than 75 percent of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen at home, making mastery of the procedure vital to saving lives.
CPR that is provided immediately after cardiac arrest can double a victim’s chance of survival, according to the AHA. It helps maintain vital blood flow to the heart and brain, and increases the amount of time that an electric shock from a defibrillator can be effective, according to the AHA.
Brain death starts to occur four to six minutes after someone experiences cardiac arrest if no CPR and defibrillation occurs during that time, according to the AHA.
Last year, the American Red Cross began instituting its newly revised training programs and materials for CPR courses. The training was designed to provide more simplified and flexible courses.
For more information on CPR courses offered by the Red Cross or to enroll in a training class, visit www.redcross.org.