Why I’m trained in CPR, and why you should be, too

Courtesy: American Heart Association

CPR training is often free, and usually only takes about four hours. Your training could help you save a loved one, a friend or a stranger. Photo Courtesy: American Heart Association

We’ve all heard it before: CPR saves lives.

But that slogan didn’t have much meaning to me until recently, when a friend’s infant daughter stopped breathing in the middle of the night. CPR, I learned, saved her life.

Her father, Michael Ito, told me that the frightening episode “was a major reminder to cherish every day, and to be as prepared as you can for even the worst of situations.”

To highlight the importance of CPR training, I asked Michael to share his story on Being808.

Here’s what he wrote:

It was just after midnight when Cobie, our then-20-month-old daughter, made an innocent coughing sound. I normally overlook thousands of coughs like this, but something made me check the baby monitor anyway.

On the monitor, I saw that Cobie’s eyes were open and her arms moving, but then I noticed that her arms were moving in an unusual repetitive up and down motion. After a few seconds I also noticed those movements getting progressively smaller. I went to peek in her room, and when she didn’t react to me coming in, I immediately turned on the light.

What I saw was something forever burned into my memory. Cobie’s movement had stopped, her face was blue and her eyes were rolling to the back of her head.

As I grabbed her limp body from the crib, I screamed for my wife Daeni, who was asleep. As I yelled for her, I tried to do something but had no idea what was wrong and wasn’t thinking clearly anyway.

Michael Ito poses with his wife, Daeni, and their two daughters, Kenna and Cobie. Daeni's CPR training and quick thinking helped save Cobie's life when the then-20-month-old stopped breathing in her crib. Photo Courtesy: Ito family

Michael Ito poses with his wife, Daeni, and their two daughters, Kenna and Cobie. Daeni’s CPR training and quick thinking helped save Cobie’s life when the then-20-month-old stopped breathing in her crib. Photo Courtesy: Ito family

As soon as Daeni came in the room I handed Cobie over to her. As Daeni attended to Cobie, I called 911. Both of us were frantic and had no idea what was happening and couldn’t help but be terrified that our baby girl was dying right in front of us.

Daeni is a nurse, and the day before this happened she had taken a CPR/first aid refresher course at Kahului Airport Fire Station because her two-year certification had expired.

Thanks to her training, she was able to fight through the hysteria of the situation and perform CPR on Cobie. She kept remembering what the firefighters told her during her training: “Do something!” and “Someone who doesn’t need CPR will let you know.” After a couple of minutes, Cobie’s color returned but she was still unresponsive and her eyes continued to roll around blankly.

After what seemed like forever, but was really just a few minutes, two police officers and the paramedics arrived. After an initial assessment, Daeni and Cobie were loaded into the ambulance. Somewhere between Kula and the hospital, Cobie finally gave out a good cry and started to regain awareness.

That was about 20 minutes after we initially found her. In the meantime, our 4-year-old daughter, Kenna, miraculously slept through it all.

After spending the rest of that day and the next in the hospital, Cobie was sent home. Since then we’ve had follow-ups with a couple of specialists, and everything has checked out OK. We still don’t know why Cobie stopped breathing, or whether it could happen again. We also don’t know what would have happened if my wife hadn’t performed CPR.

Despite the uncertainty, today Cobie is her normal rambunctious self, and we couldn’t be more grateful for every day we have with our girls.

— Michael Ito

I really appreciate Michael sharing his story with me and others.

Cobie’s story was all the push I needed to get CPR certified. My staff at Anytime Fitness gym in Pukalani, Maui, also went through the course.

And the episode spurred Daeni, Cobie’s mom, to become a CPR instructor.

If you aren’t certified, consider enrolling in a class near you. The four hours you spend learning CPR can add many years to a loved one’s life. Classes are often offered free.

I hope you’ll never have to use CPR, but being prepared can give you peace of mind — and it might just save a life.

Learn more about CPR and find a class near you:

American Red Cross

American Heart Association

Got a minute? Spend it watching this instructional video on hands-only CPR.

HiguchiSean Higuchi grew up in Pukalani, Maui, and graduated from the University of Puget Sound with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. As a personal trainer, Sean has worked with health care providers to create weight loss programs and implement fitness plans for patients transitioning out of rehabilitation. Since moving home with his wife Katie, they’ve welcomed their first child Tori and opened Anytime Fitness gym in Pukalani.

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