Louise Van Andel knows the value of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) first-hand: she would not be alive today if passersby hadn’t administered it to her when she suffered cardiac arrest while overseas last summer.
Van Andel was visiting her mother in the Netherlands for a week in June 2017. One morning, while bicycling to the nursing home where her mother lived, she collapsed. She has no memory of what happened but later learned that a woman driving by noticed Van Andel lying on the bike path and called for help while lifting the bicycle off of Van Andel. Her skin was already grey.
Three other people stopped, checked her vital signs, and began CPR. Almost eight minutes later, paramedics arrived, took over CPR, and used the AED (defibrillator) twice to shock her heart back into a steady rhythm.
When she was reunited with her family members in Canada two weeks later, their gratitude for the help of the strangers who saved Van Andel’s life quickly became an idea and then an action plan.
Van Andel’s sister-in-law, Jennie Roubos, decided to organize a couple of training sessions in CPR and AED to help raise awareness among the public about these life-saving skills. The first session took place on January 17 at Palmerston Christian Reformed Church, where Van Andel and Roubos are both members.
“We had a successful first day running the course,” said Van Andel. “It was well received by people who took it—not because they had to but because they wanted to.” After registration for the first two events maxed out, a third date was scheduled for February 24. They hope the Saturday course will make it available to more young people, who can’t necessarily come out for a weekday training.
“Hopefully many people will realize the importance of [CPR] and become interested in taking the course as well,” said Van Andel.