Northern Lakes College student Cindy Whitehead has given a whole new mean to the term “hands-on training”. On the evening between her two-day Standard First Aid and CPR training course, Cindy used her new skills to save the life of her own husband.
Returning home from NLC’s High Prairie campus, Cindy found Dennis Whitehead ill in the couple’s living room. “He was laying on the couch, grabbing his chest,” Cindy reports, “He said he couldn’t breath.” Immediately, Cindy recognized the signs of massive heart failure. She called the rural ambulance service but soon realized her husband wouldn’t survive until their arrival without her intervention.
“We live about 45 kilometers from the department so I knew they were going to take a while,” she said, “but he couldn’t wait. I started doing CPR. His heart had stopped, so I grabbed the AED kit.” Parent to a child with disabilities, Cindy keeps a resuscitation kit in the home and was made more confident using it by her training earlier that day. Remarkably, she was able to continue life-saving assistance until paramedics arrived almost one hour later.
After hospital stabilization, Dennis made an important request of his wife. “He said, ‘you make sure you finish that course’,” Cindy recalls, laughing. “So I was back in class the very next day. He went into heart failure on October 11th, 2016 - my First Aid card was issued October 12th.”
As for Dennis, he is now again well and back at work as a residential carpenter; the kind of man who “can’t stop for minute,” as described by his wife. From the experience, the couple is more convinced than ever to spread their story and encourage others, especially those who live in rural areas, to seek basic medical training. “First aid has got to be taken,” Cindy asserts. “It’s should be taken by everyone. No excuses.”
Cindy has recently been nominated for a St. John’s Ambulance award for her effort and skill.
Northern Lakes College Standard First Aid and CPR training is offered throughout the year, at campuses throughout the service region. For course details,https://www.northernlakescollege.ca/cect