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CPR Saves: Stories from the Red Cross

CPR/AED Training

There are many Red Cross save stories. Some might be kept in quiet reverence, some are published in local newspapers and still others are captured on Here’s a peek at save story excerpts, and possibly an inspiration for others to get Red Cross trained.

A FATHER’S DAY GIFT AT THE POOL Myles, my four year old, 3’6” son, had somehow left the hot tub area and gotten into the adult pool. We ran over and pulled him out of the water, only to see his blue face and grey, still body, the color of pool concrete. He was limp, lifeless, his lungs gurgling - the image of what appeared to be my dead son.

What happened next was fluid, efficient and perfectly orchestrated. One person contacted the front desk while another called 911. My friend, John Newland and I began very remedial CPR. Despite our best efforts, we failed to make any significant progress in reviving my son.

Another friend of mine realized two off-duty lifeguards, Liz and Alison Manley, were nearby. The sisters, 15 and 18, recently trained by the Red Cross in CPR, took over on compressions and breathing.

Alison took over directly above Myles and Liz near his feet. Alison started compressions, Liz gave instructions. They turned him on his side, cleared the airway as he expelled water. They continued chest compressions and rescue breathing, working feverishly yet staying calm and coordinated. They were a perfect team.

As the scene unfolded, so many things went through my mind. It seemed that seconds, minutes and hours passed, all at once. I saw his life flash before my eyes, the vivid image of my beloved son, wearing his favorite Lightning McQueen jammies and then his t-ball uniform. All at once I was filled with both regret and hope. "What kind of a father lets this happen?", "Stay with me buddy!" "C’mon Myles", "I don't want to live without you buddy!" and finally "God help, somebody, do anything!" Then it happened. Myles slowly opened one of his eyes and began to cry. I picked him up and held him.

Myles was dismissed from the hospital the next morning and, despite everything that happened, was adamant about going to Worlds of Fun. This was the best Father’s Day gift I could have ever received, watching my wife, son and daughter reunited and healthy, playing together again! No days are taken for granted any longer!

ON THE GOLF COURSE Ralph Harms, 78, was playing golf with his son Joe and friend Doug Green on July 30, 2013. After a great shot at the fourth hole, Ralph remembers hollering, “Yeah, baby.” The next thing he remembers is waking up in the hospital three days later. Ralph had collapsed on the course in full cardiac arrest just seconds after that great shot. Though he says he was familiar with the signs and symptoms of a heart attack, “cardiac arrest is like walking up to a light switch and just turning it off,” he says. “There was no warning.”

About four years prior, Ralph and Joe were watching a football game together on T.V. When a commercial about CPR came on, Ralph asked his son if he was certified. The elder Harms had taken Red Cross CPR classes every two years for decades in order to keep his CPR certification active. His son had not yet done the same, and Ralph recalls getting on the floor to show Joe the proper way to do chest compressions.

“It’s a good thing Joe remembered—or I wouldn’t be here,” Ralph says. While his friend Doug called 9-1-1 with a cell phone, Joe began CPR. With paramedics en route, Ralph’s heart started and stopped three times. All the while, Joe continued chest compressions.

Ralph miraculously survived and spent three days in a drug-induced coma. Ralph knows it was his friend and son’s efforts and the CPR know-how that contributed to his survival. For that reason he shares his story.

CPR save stories can happen at work, at home, at the recreation center or even in China. To be prepared, sign up here to take a Red Cross CPR/AED course.

About the American Red Cross:

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation's blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.