Nationally Recognized Expert: ‘Don’t Be Afraid To Do Bystander CPR’ (+ podcast)

Tuesday, December 5 2023 by Richard D. Hunt

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Dr. Edmond Hooker
Xavier Hands Only CPR/YouTube
Dr. Edmond Hooker

Dr. Edmond Hooker is a hospital emergency physician and professor of Health Services Administration at Cincinnati’s Xavier University. For years he has advocated for more awareness of chest compression CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). Recently he put his own knowledge to good use, helping to save the life of a man who had gone into cardiac arrest on a flight to Florida. 

In our complete podcast interview, Dr. Hooker shares that incredible experience:

The media attention to his lifesaving mid-air action lends even more support for Dr. Hooker’s constant efforts to raise awareness of bystander CPR - and defuse the reasons many people seem afraid to attempt the procedure and possibly save a life.

Cardiac arrest is when the heart, for whatever reason, shuts down – breathing stops and unconsciousness occurs.  

We asked Dr. Hooker why people who witness a person in cardiac arrest often do absolutely nothing other than calling 911? “The biggest one I hear is, ‘I was afraid that I would hurt them.’” As a doctor, who witnesses life and death situations, he reassures people about attempting CPR on a person who has experienced cardiac arrest: “They’re dead. You cannot make them more dead.” But you may be able to bring them back into life. 

And he explains all states have Good Samaritan laws to protect bystanders who offer help in such situations. Even if you have not had formal CPR training, “Any CPR is better than no CPR.” Basically, “Just put the heel of one hand in the center of the chest. Put the other hand on top and start pushing.” Dr. Hooker recommends thinking of the Bee Gees hit song Stayin’ Alive – and moving your hands up and down with that rhythm. Hands-only CPR.

In our interview podcast, Dr. Hooker shares how most cardiac arrest incidents occur at residences, which makes knowing about CPR critical for family members. And he tells us about his university program, Xavier Has a Heart, where students get CPR experience and then teach 10 others that they know. All told, the doctor has been responsible for 10,000 people being trained!

Knowing that he saves and touches lives in the ER, and also by way of CPR advocacy, Dr. Hooker reflects, “I feel blessed by God to be a doctor. It is a true blessing to have had the training. And, you know, it makes you feel great when you save a life!” And he gives full credit to others he works with in the emergency room. “When we save a life in the emergency department, it takes a team. I might be leading the team, but I can’t do it by myself,” and he recalls on the plane flight recently, “I had a pediatric surgeon help me do the CPR. It takes a team.”

Below are links to a few recent stories about quick response CPR saving a life:

At home, Stephanie Clayman starts CPR when her husband’s heart stopped. “I was getting ready to say we need to go to the ER, and he was gone … He was dead. there was no doubt in my mind.”  

He suffered cardiac arrest during a workout at his gym. Other gymgoers used CPR to keep him alive until paramedics arrived. 

A grandmother in Catlettsburg, Ky., awakened in the hospital this weekend to find that her 11-year-old granddaughter saved her life. "She's 11. I would've never thought she'd be able to do something like that. She told me I was purple," Donna said. 

Restaurant worker saves customer who stopped breathing. “We got him breathing again and by that time the paramedics were there.”

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