As I began my second day here at the Red Cross of Greater Chicago, I was immediately presented with an opportunity to report on a CPR Instructor training class taking place here at our headquarters. I dropped my bag, grabbed the camera, and made my way down to the seminar room.
I opened the door and found 11 eager individuals assembling plastic mannequins used for practicing CPR techniques. Before the class began the instructor asked each of the 11 students to introduce themselves, and explain why they decided to take this course. The stories from each person were diverse and multi-faceted, but everyone agreed that a principal reason why they enrolled is because they wanted to be a part of something bigger than themselves. As the stories made their way across the room, one in particular grabbed my immediate attention; the story from a girl by the name of Jahan Nurhussein.
“I have two jobs, but I still make sure to find time to volunteer,” Jahan tells me. Jahan decided to work with the Red Cross of Greater Chicago because she wanted to find something to do that would give back to her immediate community. She described to me that it’s in her personality to actively seek out volunteer opportunities, and when she heard about this program from AmeriCorps, she couldn’t resist signing up.
Jahan’s story, one of true heroism, exemplifies just how important it is to be CPR certified. Jahan and her friend were running an errand at her local church when suddenly she saw a crowd of people standing in a circle in the church lobby. Jahan, curious as to what was going on, hurried over to the scene. She saw a man laying on the ground unconscious, and a woman trying to resuscitate him. Jahan had been certified to perform CPR, and when she noticed the woman performing CPR on the man was doing so incorrectly, she knew she had to step in. “I saw that she wasn’t supporting the man’s neck and was blocking the airway,” Jahan recalls. Jahan asked the woman to step away politely and told her that she knew the proper way to administer CPR. The woman agreed, and Jahan went to work. Jahan started giving CPR to the man, and after what seemed like an eternity an ambulance arrived. An EMT approached Jahan and told her that if she had not delivered CPR to this man that he certainly would have died before the ambulance arrived at the scene.
The Red Cross of Greater Chicago offers a wide array of free preparedness classes to Chicagoans who are interested in being able to aid in an emergency, whether that means performing CPR or knowing how to effectively evacuate people from a burning building. Jahan’s story serves as an excellent testament to how important it is to get certified to perform basic live saving procedures like CPR. Get certified. Save a life. It’s that easy.
Zachary Zimmerman is a Marketing and Communications intern at the Red Cross of Greater Chicago