Many people were saddened by Tim Russert’s death this weekend from an apparent heart attack. My first thoughts were as a writer—He was a young man, only 58, and I always enjoyed watching him on Meet the Press. He was respectful, but also critical when other journalists were throwing softballs.
And, of course, my second thoughts were as a writer for the Red Cross. We think a lot about heart attacks here—how common they are, and how to be ready to respond to them with CPR and AEDs. Though I’ve worked here for several months now, this is the first time it’s occurred to me that my mom and dad, both in their 50s, probably don’t know CPR.
Reports say that an intern in Russert’s office began applying CPR almost immediately, but that an AED wasn’t used. I’m so glad that someone nearby was ready to help him. I can’t imagine how it would feel to be there when someone is suffering and not know what to do.
There’s been a lot of buzz about this on the internet. Dr. Douglas Zipes, of the Krannert Institute of Cardiology at Indiana University, emphasized that that “AEDs should be as common as fire extinguishers.”
I hope some more people are inspired to get trained in CPR and AEDs because of Russert’s death, and to do so out of respect and care for others. You never know when the health of other amazingly talented people might be in your care.