Weekend class teaching life-saving skills in Roanoke

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ROANOKE, Va (WDJB7) -- "I was on the track, and without any warning, I totally collapsed."

Ken Pearson knows firsthand the value of learning CPR.

"Cause I basically had died. My heart stopped beating and I had quit breathing," he said.

Last April, Pearson suffered a cardiac arrest. He's here today, in part, because the people nearby knew CPR.

"If I had not been in the place that I was at the time that I was, I would not have survived," said Pearson.

"Really there should be stories like this that happen a lot," said Dr. Jack Perkins.

Perkins is an Emergency Medicine Physician with Carillion Clinic. He says that of the 350,000 people who suffer a cardiac arrest each year, just 10 percent walk away unscathed.

Saturday, Perkins is hoping to do something about that.

"If you want to change the numbers, you go after the public and that's what we're doing," he said.

Perkins will be giving normal people a lesson in life saving, showing them how to perform CPR, and to use a defibrillator, or AED.

"We have manikins there," he said "We demonstrate it for you, and then we're going to put you through training."

Perkins says just about anyone can learn, and in an emergency, it can be the difference between life and death: time is of the essence during a cardiac arrest. "8 minutes is usually the window of opportunity," he said.

Perkins's class is one of several being held across the country by the Compress and Shock Foundation. The goal is to trail 1,000 people this weekend.

And a year after his cardiac arrest, Ken Pearson will be among them

"I tell everybody, they need to become involved, because it can happen to anybody," said Pearson.

Perkins's class will be held this Saturday at Roanoke Valley Crossfit, and will last about an hour. Anyone interested can register at the Compress and Shock Foundation website.