On National CPR-AED Awareness Week, American Red Cross proves training saves lives

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- It might be the best three hours you'll ever spend.

The American Red Cross says this is National CPR and AED Awareness Week and the perfect time to learn the art of saving others' lives.

On Wednesday morning, the Red Cross brought one of its many certification courses to the business offices at FOX4 on Signal Hill.

A 3-hour course is time well spent. American Red Cross trainers instruct thousands of would-be life savers in CPR and AED each year. Red Cross trainer Kari Thomas shared her knowledge with members of the FOX4 team on Wednesday, one of five courses she'll deliver this week alone.

"One and two and three and four," Thomas counted aloud, guiding students through compressions on CPR-training dummies.

These lessons in compressions, use of the defibrillator and clearing of obstructed airway can be the difference between life and death.

"With the basic lay-responder course like this, the American Red Cross has simplified this and made it easy for people to respond to any life-threatening emergency," Thomas said.

There's no such thing as a bad day for Tim and Karen McHugh -- not after Tim's massive heart attack.

"I unloaded the car was doing all that stuff and then I got nauseous and actually sick," Tim McHugh said.

He said he had no history of heart trouble, but nonetheless, he fell to the floor clutching his chest while his wife was out of the room. She returned to find him in the floor, but she didn't panic.

"His chest was not rising and so I was just doing the you know chest compressions," Karen McHugh said.

She said she learned CPR as a girl scout decades ago, and when she needed it most, the training came back instantly.

"Now, to remember it from back in that day is phenomenal you know to the point that she actually did it correctly that I`m still here today," Tim McHugh said.

And it's what trainers, such as Thomas, hope for while conducting training sessions, which are designed to help teach people how to help heart attack patients survive the onset until paramedics arrive.

"The heart gets damaged. The cells get damaged. The longer you prolong that, the more damage is done to the heart. It eventually could lead into cardiac arrest, which you would need CPR," Thomas told FOX4.

Thomas said she`s been certifying people in CPR/AED since 2000, and people who have taken this course have gone on to save others in need.

The American Red Cross gives its 3-hour course to thousands of groups across the nation every year. You can learn more about getting Red Cross trainers to visit you here at their website.