Lifesaving Moment in DC Demonstrates Why Not to Avoid CPR During Pandemic: Doctor

"You don’t have to do mouth-to-mouth. We just need you to do the hands-on CPR"

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A D.C. man's brush with death is proving to be a teachable moment during the pandemic.

The man was out for a jog on Aug. 1 when he went into sudden cardiac arrest near 13th Street and Massachusetts Avenue NW.

Seemingly healthy, his life was slipping away.

"Time is brain…as the minutes go by, those vital organs don’t have the blood they need to survive and function," said Dr. Ryan Gerecht, assistant medical director for D.C. Fire and EMS.

A woman who was a bystander stepped in and performed CPR on the man, saving his life.

His family and friends have put up posters at the intersection where it happened to try to find the woman and thank her.

"It's an incredible story and it’s a story that defines and exemplifies what a successful cardiac arrest system looks like for any city," Gerecht said.

Gerecht says the incident is an opportunity to not only thank this woman for her heroism, but also to let the public know that the COVID19 pandemic should not prevent anyone from administering CPR in an emergency.

"All of the leading medical organizations and experts are all in alignment on this. Bystander CPR is critical and it shouldn’t change in the era of COVID. You don’t have to do mouth-to-mouth we just need you to do the hands-on CPR," Gerecht said.

The American Heart Association says nearly 90 percent of heart attacks outside hospitals result in death. But CPR can triple a person’s chance of survival.

Gerecht says you're much more likely to save a life than catching COVID-19.

"You’re only doing this for a few minutes. The likelihood that anybody would get infected with a virus is far less, way less, than the likelihood that you’re going to save a life," he said.

Gerecht says if the victim is wearing a mask, leave it in place. If they don’t have one, use a cloth or their own shirt to cover their mouth.

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