DC Resident Puts CPR Training to Use, Saves Coworker's Life

Less than a day after receiving CPR training, a Washington woman put it to use to help save a life.

Danette Purvis hadn’t planned to take a CPR class, but when she showed up for her cosmetology class at the Bennett Career Institute one night and learned they were offering free CPR training, she decided to join in.

As it turns out, that training couldn’t have come at a better time.

The very next day, Purvis was in a meeting at work in Dupont Circle when she noticed her coworker, Kenneth Miles, having what looked like a seizure.

“I immediately grabbed his arm and shook him. No response,” Purvis said. “Everything went completely dead. He was not moving, not breathing or anything.”

At that point, her training from the night before “instantly came back,” she said. She began chest compressions to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat” and called for an AED, just like she’d been taught.

“I wasn’t even nervous when I did the CPR,” Purvis said.


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Soon after, paramedics showed up and took Miles to the hospital. He is still recovering there but is expected to be OK, thanks in part to Purvis’ quick thinking.

Purvis called the timing of her CPR training a “divine intervention.”

“I mean, the day before, I got the CPR training, and then the next day he’s having this attack. I’m like, nobody’s gonna believe this if I tell them this,” she said.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser honored Purvis, along with several other coworkers and first responders who helped Miles, with a badge of thanks in a ceremony at the Engine 9 Fire Station on U Street NW.

“We’re grateful that she stepped up to the plate to take the training,” Bowser said. “Ms. Purvis, that person may not have been alive but for your quick action and your ability to get trained and to get over your own fear.”

The training Purvis received was part of Mayor Bowser’s Hands on Hearts initiative to provide free, hands-only CPR training to citizens throughout the District. Launched a year ago, the initiative has already trained about 12,000 people.

“We want to train even more. We want to take the mystery out of doing CPR,” Bowser said. “It’s easy and it can save a life.”

Miles wasn’t at the ceremony on Wednesday because he is still in the hospital, but Purvis said she visited him on Sunday.

“He asked about what happened, and I told how he had us nervous,” she said. “He just kept thanking me and saying how grateful he was.”

Purvis said she plans to continue her CPR training so she can become certified, and she encourages other D.C. residents to do the same.

“This [training] is something good. And it does need to get around the city,” she said.

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