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Monica Whittle, Mississippi

by Elizabeth W. on Thursday, June 6, 2013

Monica Whittle, Mississippi

On the morning of December 9, 2011, my husband went into cardiac arrest at our home.  His heart defibrillator activated six times, but did not restart his heart as it was designed to do.  The jolts in the bed woke me up.  I immediately began calling my husband’s name and shaking him vigorously.  He was unresponsive, his eyes were closed and his breathing stopped.  At that point, all I could think of was saving his life!

I automatically started doing CPR, a skill I learned thirty years ago in a Biloxi, MS middle school.  Although I wasn't sure I was doing it correctly, I did my best.  The entire process felt like an eternity, but all of a sudden my husband’s eyes opened and he said, “What are you yelling for and why are you on top of me?”  He stood up and walked to the bathroom like nothing ever happened.  I could not believe what just happened! 

The doctors told my husband that he was a lucky man for having someone nearby who knew CPR. 

After that experience, my biggest fear became, What if my children had been the ones to find my husband?  They would not have known what to do!  After this experience, I encouraged all of my children to learn CPR.  In the past, I never taught them CPR nor did their schools.   It would have been ideal for my children to learn CPR in school, where they spend a majority of their day.  I had a difficult time locating a local agency that provided free CPR training for youth.  Every place I checked came with a fee, which would have been quite costly for me with three youth.  As an alternative, we downloaded the America Heart Association’s CPR iPad app and learned the life saving techniques as a family. 

Because of my personal experience, I am thrilled that Mississippi passed the CPR in Schools bill during last year's legislative session.  The more our students know, the more equipped lifesavers we have in our communities. 

A time might come when students will need to use what they learn.  For me, it was thirty years later and I still remembered CPR enough to save my husband’s life.  I’m very thankful I learned CPR in the 8th grade.  If I had not learned CPR in middle school, my husband might not be here today, as we just just celebrated our 26th year wedding anniversary.