–By John Lynds
Six-year-old Olivia Quigley’s father could not find words to express his or his family’s thanks to the East Boston Central Catholic (EBCC) teachers, staff and Boston EMS that all worked hard to save his little girl’s life.
“CPR is what saved my daughter and it’s an easy, lifesaving technique that anyone can learn,” said Joe Quigley.
Olivia collapsed and nearly died during gym class from a previously undiagnosed heart condition. Olivia’s heart had stopped but thanks to kindergarten teacher Kathy Carabine and sixth-grade teacher Robert Casaletto, both trained in CPR, the girl is alive and was able to make a full recovery at Franciscan Hospital for Children in Brighton.
“This is one of our shining examples of just how important learning CPR is,” said EMS spokeswoman Jennifer Mehigan. “The teachers were trained in CPR and their performance that day to save Olivia’s life was textbook. Olivia is now nine-years-old and living a great life.”
Last Thursday at the Harborside Community Center Boston EMS teamed up with the Harborside, East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, the Boston Police and the Boston Public Health Commission to offer a free family CPR training course as part of National EMS Week.
“The event was a ‘CPR Anytime’ event and gave East Boston families the opportunity to learn CPR and take that training home to train others,” said Harborside Director Michael Sulprizio.
The training was provided in both English and Spanish and each participant was provided with a CPR training kit at the conclusion of the event.
“The kit included a CPR training video, a portable mannequin to train on and other tools that participants could take home and help other family members train in CPR,” said Mehigan. “It was a terrific event and out intent in general is to get as many people trained in CPR as we possibly can. This is a life saving skill that adults and young children can perform.”
Sulprizio said he was impressed by the turnout last week.
“Doing the training in both English and Spanish gave us the chance to reach more people and get them trained in CPR,” he said.
The American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) observed the 38th annual EMS week on May 15 with events in communities across the nation, as well as several national events organized around the theme, “Everyday Heroes.”
National EMS featured hundreds of grassroots activities coast-to-coast, including safety demonstrations, EMS essay and poster contests, CPR classes and at least one auto extrication demonstration.
Every year, approximately 166,000 people die due to Sudden Cardiac Arrest. This occurs when electrical impulses increase in speed, causing the heart to stop beating. Although many believe they are not at risk, sudden cardiac arrest can occur to anyone at any time, regardless of the person’s health or age.
CPR can possibly triple a victim’s chance of survival, yet only about 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR.
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It combines mouth-to-mouth breathing and chest compressions, increasing the flow of oxygen and circulating the blood during cardiac arrest. This helps to ensure that blood can still reach the brain and heart, extending the brief window of opportunity for full resuscitation without permanent brain damage. In the absence of oxygen, a person can become brain dead in only 3-4 minutes, while an ambulance could take much longer to arrive at the scene. For this reason, knowing the steps to performing effective CPR is essential for reacting quickly in an emergency situation.