Mt. Vernon Man Says CPR Saved His Life

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By Evie Allen
By Randy Livingston

MT. VERNON -- A Mt. Vernon man says he's living proof that CPR is a lifesaver.

All high school students in Illinois are now required to learn CPR. Governor Quinn signed that law June 5th. But the American Heart Association doesn't want to stop there. The group is encouraging everyone to learn the skill.
 
30-year-old Dustin Palmer is celebrating an unforgettable birthday. He turned 30 on June 5th and he's happy to be alive to tell his story.
 
"If they wouldn't have done CPR, I wouldn't be alive today," says Palmer.
 
Last October, Palmer had an aneurysm. During surgery his heart stopped, and doctors had to perform CPR to revive him. He's living with the help of a machine while he waits for a transplant.
 
The experience has prompted Palmer to volunteer for the American Heart Association promoting CPR training.
 
"It needs to be everywhere. Every workplace, every business, even fast-food restaurants. They need to have people that are trained on all shifts," believes Palmer.
     
Local experts say knowing the life saving skill is critical and you never know where it might be needed.
 
"In order to help people, people have to know what to do. If they're not trained on what to do, they could become scared and they don't perform," explains Leslie McKenzie.
 
McKenzie is the American Heart Association Training coordinator for Rend Lake College and a paramedic. The organization has teamed up with St. Mary's Good Samaritan Hospital in Mt. Vernon to promote the teaching of CPR.
 
"As a paramedic, if I come on scene and I see somebody doing CPR, then I know that person has a chance," she says.
 
If you have no training, there are two simple steps you can follow. First, call 911. Then, push hard and fast on the chest. 
 
"It's important to follow the guidelines. It's important to do 30 compressions to two breaths. However, the most important thing is to step up and do something," says McKenzie.
 
The American Heart Association also has kits to purchase with a dvd and an inflatable mannequin to practice on. It's a practice that could save a life.
 
Palmer hopes his story will inspire others to get trained. McKenzie says her team at Rend Lake College offers the classes for free. To learn more you can go to www.heart.org
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