CPR Saves a Life and Forges a Friendship

When Beverly Shiver went to her job as a receptionist at Mary S. Mosley Performance Learning Center on July 7, 2014, she had no reason to believe it would be anything other than an ordinary day. But by 9:00 a.m., Shiver, 62, who had no previous history of heart problems, had gone into sudden cardiac arrest.

“No one would have expected this to happen to me because I’ve never had any issues with my heart,” said Shiver. “But it can happen to anyone.”

ShiverCPRCardiac arrest occurs when the heart abruptly stops beating. It can be caused by a malfunction of the heart’s electrical system or when a clot blocks blood flow. It often occurs suddenly and without warning. In fact, two-thirds of sudden cardiac arrest deaths occur without prior symptoms of heart disease.

Fortunately for Shiver, school resource officer Deputy Justin Brown was down the hall when Shiver collapsed.

“When I got close to her I knew something was really wrong,” said Brown.

While a school employee called 911, Brown checked Shiver’s airway, breathing and pulse, and began performing CPR. He used an automated external defibrillator (AED) to deliver a shock to Shiver’s heart to try to get it back in rhythm before EMS arrived.

“Knowing how to perform CPR and doing it quickly is very important,” said Brown. “Family and friends are often with the victim before EMS arrives, so having someone trained in CPR can save a life.”

According to the American Heart Association, the only successful treatment of sudden cardiac arrest is immediate CPR and defibrillation with an AED within the first five minutes of collapse. Immediate CPR can double, or even triple, a victim’s chance of survival.

“It’s a miracle I’m here, and I don’t take that for granted,” said Shiver.

Shiver received an implantable cardiac defibrillator to keep her heart beating regularly and prevent another cardiac arrest. Luckily, she suffered no lasting heart damage from the incident.

Shiver recently met Brown for the first time since he helped save her life in July. Amid shared tears and hugs, she told him, “I’m so glad someone who knew how to perform CPR was there. If you hadn’t been at the school that day, I wouldn’t be here today. I just hope something good comes out of this; everyone needs to get trained in CPR and know how to use a defibrillator.”

Most bystanders are worried that they might do something wrong or make things worse, but actions can only help. Any attempt at CPR is better than no attempt.