By Sierra Smith, Communications Specialist
More than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital each year. According to the American Heart Association, about 90% of those arrests result in death; however, a person’s chances of survival can double or even triple if CPR is administered immediately.
Gemma Jefferson ’21 is working to make sure USN students can contribute to increasing the cardiac arrest survival rate; her goal is to get all University School of Nashville students CPR trained before they graduate.
“I guess I just started realizing how important it is to know how to do it. It seems like we all know people who have passed away from cardiac arrest that could’ve been saved or, on the other side of that, we know people who were saved because someone knew CPR,” Gemma said.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic has presented obstacles for scheduling training sessions, Gemma’s mission is off to a great start. Over the past several months, Gemma worked with High School Dean of Student Life Justin Karpinos and High School Girls’ Soccer Coach Megan Masuhr to hold a CPR training session for her teammates.
“Being on a team and playing soccer is more than kicking a ball and scoring goals,” Masuhr said. “By being members of the soccer team, our players are provided with the opportunity to become lifelong learners and positive participants within our community. When Gemma brought this idea, it was without question that we would have the team complete this CPR training even if it meant time off the field.”
Held at the River Campus, which allowed for appropriate distancing, 16 of the team’s players received hands-only CPR training followed by a question and answer session to learn more about preventing cardiac arrest fatalities.
“You hear stories all the time of athletes, even people our age, collapsing during a workout, so starting with my teammates felt like a good way to see if holding [CPR] training right now was even possible,” Gemma shared.
Not only was CPR training in a COVID-19 protocol-compliant way possible, it turned out to be a memorable teambuilding moment, too.
“I think it brought us all closer together just feeling empowered and knowing that we have this skill and in any moment we all could work together to save someone’s life,” Gemma said.
Masuhr echoed the effect the training had on the players, and coaches, as well.
“The life lessons and memories from soccer are what our student-athletes will carry with them through life. It was quite impressive to have Gemma lead this experience and for us coaches to observe our players in action,” Masuhr said.