HealthStream CPR Training Led Employee Tonya Cooke to Save Son’s Life

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of global mortality, accounting for more than 17 million deaths annually (Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, 2014). In addition, the prevalence of heart disease is increasing while the survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) outside the hospital remain relatively low, ranging from just 2 to 11%. The survival rates for in-hospital SCA are only slightly better at 25%.

The Commitment to Improving CPR is Personal

Solving big problems in healthcare, like the low rate of success for resuscitation, is part of HealthStream’s DNA and a principle that we’ve enshrined in our corporate constitution. Promoting high quality CPR also embodies the HealthStream Vision, which is to improve the quality of healthcare by assessing and developing the people who deliver care. But this is more than just a business goal at HealthStream. Improving resuscitation becomes very personal when we consider that a close friend or family member may be affected by that low percentage of CPR success. Our goal is to improve resuscitation outcomes by helping many more healthcare professionals learn, adopt, and practice the latest science-based resuscitation guidelines.

HealthStream’s commitment to improving resuscitation rates is demonstrated across a wide swath of our workforce. When we spoke with employees, we were amazed at the impact CPR has had among them and their families. Here is one example:

Tonya Cooke, Project Manager

While giving her two young sons a bath, HealthStream Project Manager Tonya Cooke stepped away momentarily to answer the door. Cooke was not at the front door for more than a couple of minutes when she noticed some unusually raucous laughter coming from the boys in the bathroom, followed by the sound of her older son calling out to her. He sounded scared; so she quickly returned to the bathroom, where she saw the last thing any parent wants to see—her one-year-old “floating face up, eyes closed, and already blue in the face.”

“Thirty compressions, two breaths

She screamed for her husband, who took one look at his son, thought he was dead, and panicked. However, Cooke instinctively knew, “He can’t be dead. It’s only been a minute and a half.” After telling her husband to get help, she hit her unresponsive son “on the back a couple of times to see if that would help; when it didn’t I immediately starting thinking about the CPR training I received from HealthStream.” Cooke remembered “2 breaths and 30 compressions and started CPR.” She didn’t even get through a full round before her sister, a teacher who also had CPR training, arrived immediately from next door and took over CPR, which allowed Cooke to consult the card that she keeps “in front of the silverware tray in the kitchen, which gives the steps for CPR.”

“I ran back to the bedroom and saw my sister giving 5 compressions then a breath,” Cooke says, and “I corrected her and asked her to count out loud so I could hear the speed. The next thing was to call 911. So I yelled for someone to call 911, and Mark [her husband] was already on the phone with them.” Cooke shares, “About that time, after my sister completed about 2 rounds of CPR, Ridge started spitting up the water. I put him over my shoulder, and he continued to spit up the water. And then the best feeling was his breath on my face, which I’ll never forget!”

“You guys did everything right… this is a non-emergency.”

With 911 on the phone, Cooke was holding her son, “feeling him breathing on my face. I knew he’d be okay.” EMTs arrived and took the boy from Cooke, who dressed and gathered things for the hospital. When she went to the ambulance to check on her son, the EMTs told her, “You guys did everything right. We’ve checked his vital signs, we’ve checked his pulse and his oxygen level. His lungs sound great. This is a non-emergency.” Check-ups followed immediately at the nearest hospital in Clarkesville, TN, which diagnosed “a very small amount of fluid in one of his lungs” and then at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, where “another check of his lungs confirmed it wasn’t water, it was infection from when he was previously sick with congestion.” After being released, Cooke shares, “We checked into the hotel next to Vanderbilt at 4 AM, and at 6:30 AM my son woke us up laughing and ready to play!”

“You never know when you’re going to need that CPR training.”

In sharing her story, Cooke offers “At a soccer game or just walking down the street, somebody can collapse. You never know when you’re going to need that CPR training.” She adds, “The reason this happened is so that I could tell this story. So I can educate people on how important it is to be CPR-certified.” Cooke closes with, “It’s such a blessing and a great story to be able to tell that you were able to save a life, especially your own son’s life. You never know when you’ll need it and whose life you could be saving. It’ll be one of the best rewards you can ever hope for. Also,” she adds, “take a dripping baby to the door with you if needed!”

Watch as Cooke and other HealthStream employees share their stories.

Learn more about our solutions for improving resuscitation.

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