Roanoke man saves life after taking CPR and AED class

Published: Mar. 13, 2023 at 5:34 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Interest in CPR skyrocketed after the on-field cardiac arrest of NFL player Damar Hamlin. And for one Roanoker, that hit close to home after he was at the right place at the right time to save a man’s life.

Sometimes the gift of life is in your own hands.

“Every second is precious at that moment,” said Robert Alegre.

Alegre knows that firsthand. In 2021, he and 30 others learned CPR and AED through a Compress and Shock Foundation training at Iglesia La Roca in Roanoke.

“I’d never thought I would use it,” explained Alegre. But that all changed last October at a birthday party in the church fellowship hall.

“From the corner of my eye I noticed Juan on the floor with 4 or 5 church members surrounding him,” added Alegre.

Alegre says he immediately jumped in to help.

“He wasn’t responsive. No pulse. And at that moment we had to just kick into action. And administer CPR,” said Alegre.

Today, Juan Garcia is alive and recovering.

“I am happy that they took the training, and they were able to help me. I encourage everyone to sign up and help save other lives,” said Garcia in Spanish.

Free CPR and AED training is now available in Roanoke thanks to the Compress and Shock Foundation, the local foundation that taught Alegre how to save Garcia’s Life.

“Our education is designed for the public, it’s always free,” said Jack Perkins.

Perkins is an emergency physician and the compress and shock executive director. He says the goal is to make the training a free national and international initiative in the future.

“The only two things that change outcomes for cardiac arrest outside of the hospital CPR are bystander CPR which means that if it’s witnessed that person receives immediate CPR and then early use of an AED which is an automated external defibrillator,” explained Perkins.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine, Black and Hispanic adults are 37% less likely to receive CPR in public and 26% less likely to receive it at home compared to the white population.

“These results were important to understand and likely emblematic of other larger social issues that affect health care and treatment,” Dr. Paul Chan, the study’s senior author and cardiologist at Saint Luke’s Mid America Heart Institute in Missouri, said in a news release.

Perkins says that is why the program targets everyone, but especially those most at-risk.

“And that is a failure into providing this education into every community in the country,” added Perkins. “It’s just not equally accessible and that’s what we stand for.”

Perkins says they can deliver the training in any language and make it culturally specific.

“We don’t certify. You don’t need a card in your wallet to save a life,” said Perkins. “You just need the training.”

You have the opportunity to take that same CPR and AED training this Saturday, March 18 at 9 a.m. at Iglesia La Roca. Click Here to register.

The class will be given in English and Spanish through a presentation and hands-on training. After the class is over, local leaders and health officials will host a health fair until noon.

To watch a live discussion about cardiovascular health, CPR and AED training, and the health fair in Spanish, click here.

La Feria de Salud sera el proximo Sabado 18 de marzo.

Click Here to learn more about Compress and Shock Foundation.