CPR training pays off for local teens

Page News and Courier

LURAY ― A group of Page County teens recently sprung to action with life-saving measures during an experience they say was life changing.

During a trip last month to Pompano Beach, Fla. the seven teens ― Caroline Suddith, Katherine Spain, Daniel Roy, Elijah Caton, Connor Rothgeb, Matt Cubbage and Shannon White ― stepped up to lend a hand during a medical emergency in the parking lot of their hotel.

On June 21, the group was preparing to leave for dinner when they heard cries for help from across the street. The teens ran to a woman yelling for help and arrived to find her husband slumped over in a vehicle suffering from what she said was a heart attack.

After the teens pulled the man from his vehicle, Caroline began chest compressions after she couldn't find a pulse.

The 19-year-old rising sophomore at James Madison University had just two months earlier earned her CPR certification after she was inspired by a similar medical emergency involving her grandfather.

“It took the rescue squad longer to respond than I would have thought,” said Caroline of the incident involving her grandfather. “I decided after that that it would be good to learn CPR. I think everyone should be CPR certified ― especially after this.”

Donning in a cocktail dress that she'd previously worn to a homecoming dance and three-inch heels, said Caroline, she continued performing CPR, trading off with Elijah when she grew tired.

Elijah, 19, of Luray, had just one month earlier earned his CPR certification.

“I just always thought it was one of those things that is important to have,” said Elijah. “You go into those classes never really knowing who's going to be the one to perform CPR during their life, but you know that at least someone will. But you never expect that it's going to be you.”

The two teens continued CPR for about 20 minutes while their friends comforted and prayed with the man's wife and waited for a rescue squad's arrival.

Eventually, said Caroline, the man “gasped for air,” and was breathing as first responders prepared to transport him to a hospital. The teens never learned his name or age or where he was from, though they did learn that the man worked as a CPR instructor. They left a note with their names and contact information for the man's wife, but said they haven't heard back.

“It was definitely a God thing that we were in the right place at the right time, and we all pray that he's okay,” said Caroline, adding that the group was running late for dinner that night and otherwise wouldn't have been at the hotel. “At dinner that night we talked about how precious life is over that meal. It's definitely been a life-changing moment. It's showed me things can change in a matter of seconds and that you have to be grateful for and appreciate every moment.”

Elijah echoed that sentiment.

“It really began to hit me halfway through compressions that we were fighting for this guy's life,” he said. “It makes you a lot more grateful for everything and everybody that you have around you. You really start to look at life as a gift and look at part of your life as trusting that you're sometimes put in a place at a certain time for somebody.”

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