This is a question that unnerves many, primarily because the life-saving act is something that not everyone knows how to perform.
This is something that George Grody is looking to change. A professor in the field of Markets and Management, Grody went into cardiac arrest last September in the middle of Perkins Library. Fortunately for him, four Duke EMS students were nearby and were able to resuscitate him via cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR.
“I had no pulse, but the EMS students got in there within a minute and started doing CPR,” said Grody. “I had no pulse for seven minutes but they kept the blood flowing and pumping, and that’s what kept me alive.”
The professor who was given new life quickly became an advocate for heart health and safety, spreading the word about the importance of emergency preparedness in situations that require CPR. Taking his campaign beyond spoken word, Grody led the effort in running a CPR training event this past February, held in Cameron Indoor Stadium.
“We had 275 students that were trained on CPR,” Grody said. “The event came to the attention of the American Heart Association (AHA), who then came to me and said ‘What’re you doing?’”
Following the organization’s inquiry, Duke University was chosen as a pilot school for college CPR training. Grody wanted to take things a step further; more specifically, he wanted to launch his movement into the sphere of Duke Athletics and reach the student-athletes in order to spread awareness. “Student-athletes are very visible on campus,” mentioned Grody. “A lot of folks know them, so we’re working with representatives on each team to put in place CPR training.”
Men’s and women’s tennis were the first programs on campus to complete the training, and while Grody felt this was a good start, his goal exceeds far greater. “The goal is to get as many people CPR trained as possible,” he said. “The AHA has actually given us some CPR training kits, but we also work with the Duke Heart Center, because they have folks that specifically do the training.”
Even the ACC has taken note of Grody’s ambitions to get as many people informed as possible. “They asked me to come speak at one of their meetings in Greensboro to let other schools know what we’re doing,” he mentioned. In the competitive spirit of the conference, the professor introduced the idea of welcoming other schools to not only participate, but compete. “One of the things we wanted to do was get Duke doing it and then have some of our teams and student-athletes challenge the other ACC teams.”
The most noteworthy detail of Grody’s mission is that it’s the first of its kind. When asked whether Duke had any types of programs similar to this on campus before, he responded, “I don’t know that they did anything this specific on CPR. Athletics had defibrillators in the buildings as well as the medical center, but campus did not.”
This relative limitation in resources alarms Grody, because he realizes how lucky he was to be in the situation that he was. “There were Duke EMS students right outside the classroom I was in, and they called another Duke EMS student who happened to have a defibrillator in the car because there was not one in Perkins.” As a result, Grody has worked with the university to get more AEDS around campus in more accessible locations.
Although achieving widespread awareness for this cause is at the peak of his agenda, Grody hopes that, in a way, it is all for naught. “I think [CPR training] is critical,” he said. “But hopefully, no one ever has to use it.” As ideal of a world as that sounds, Grody understands the frequency of heart-related incidents that occur warrant such training.
“It’s one of those things where if you don’t do it and something bad happens, you sit there and think, ‘Why didn’t we do it? We know we could have done it,’” Grody said. “You know, those AEDS don’t cost that much, and it only takes 30-40 minutes to train folks so it’s a really small investment for possibly a big return.”
Such a sentiment is the very reason that Grody plans to help lead CPR training in November when Duke Athletics gathers for their action meetings. The training is a step in the right direction as it pertains to Grody’s plan to spread awareness and information.
Regarding the procedures of the training itself, Grody provided highlights of the standard course of action. “The training basically gives people the understanding of what to do if someone has cardiac arrest or there’s no pulse,” he said. “We have actual practice dummies, so we take people through the steps of what to do, how to give the CPR, how to work with the folks around them, and how to call for help.”
Although Grody applauds the tennis programs for getting the ball rolling, he will not be satisfied until knowledge of proper CPR training has extended across Duke. “We’re going to do some things with the graduate students, club sports, and we’re talking to Interfraternity Council (IFC) to get the Greek organizations trained,” said Grody. Above all else though, he recognizes the importance of getting varsity student-athletes on board.
“We’ve contacted students on every sports team for them to figure out with their teammates and coaches when they want to do it,” Grody said. “For a lot of them, it will be out of season. Tennis took the lead, but we’re trying to get everybody trained.”
Despite his experience being a life-threatening one, George Grody understands the significance of it and has every intention to use what he has learned about CPR and pass it on.
Details regarding the training in November will be released once more information becomes available.