'You can be the difference'
Emily Morton's first experience with cardiopulmonary resuscitation came as an employee of Lake Grove Swim Park. Though not a lifeguard, Morton was required to learn the basics of first aid, using an automated external defibrillator and the American Heart Association's hands-only CPR.
So when Lake Oswego Police Officer Bryan Sheldon strolled into her leadership class at Lakeridge High School looking for volunteers to help teach a course as part of the City's "CPR Anytime" initiative, Morton was all over it.
"I think it's a great skill to have just because you never know when that type of situation will pop up, and you never know if you could be that difference in someone's life," Morton said.
On June 1, Sheldon and Police Chief Don Johnson were accompanied by several Lakeridge students who helped put on a short clinic to teach the basics of hands-only CPR to employees at a downtown Portland company with Lake Oswego ties.
"For me, it's one of the few things we can do for the community, for the people, that can actually make a longstanding difference in their lives," Johnson said. "If someone's friend, mother, father — anyone who has gone down with a sudden cardiac arrest — if we can do all we can to prevent (heart failure) or revive someone, it has a huge effect on their entire family."
As Johnson prepares for his final days as Lake Oswego's police chief ahead of his retirement, the CPR Anytime initiative he and other City officials have championed stands as one of the programs that has the potential for the biggest impact on everyday Lake Oswegans.
According to the American Heart Association, more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac events occur in the United States each year. Of those, 90 percent result in death. But CPR, especially if performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person's chance of survival.
"It's really important for people to know that even if they might think, 'Well I'm not that person to make that difference,' you actually can be," Morton explained. "If someone is in need of help, any help is better than none. Having the slightest knowledge, just 20 minutes of training, is much better than not knowing at all."
Morton said the June 1 clinic was a lesson for her and her peers in sensitivity. The company — which The Review is not identifying at its request — suffered the agonizing loss of its CEO to cardiac arrest within the past year, prompting the partnership that lead to this month's training class.
Navigating those emotions in a way that was dignified and honorable was a valuable learning opportunity, Morton said.
Looking back on the efforts of the Lakeridge students had Johnson beaming this week with pride for both his community and a younger generation who are taking training like this seriously. He said he's proud to see them make a difference by helping to educate and inform people about the dangers surrounding cardiac arrest.
"The students were all in. They were excited to be there, ready to train, polite and on top of their game. They did a good job getting down on their hands and knees to coach people to do the best CPR they possibly could. We were really well received (by employees at the company)," he said.
"The students have a responsibility to give back as much as they can to the community," Johnson added. "As part of that, this was a demonstration of giving back in a way they hadn't thought of. They were just learning CPR before this, so taking it on the road and teaching gave them a shot first-hand to give back and use this as a model for generations to come."