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Spotlight on Clinicians: The Heart of Inspiration

Everything I know about what happened to me on the day of my sudden cardiac arrest—July 12, 2013—is because those present told me.

Karen Ledford, RDH, BS
Karen Ledford, RDH, BS

Everything I know about what happened to me on the day of my sudden cardiac arrest—July 12, 2013—is because those present told me. I learned about the heroic efforts of my husband who discovered me unresponsive and called 911 while racing to the next-door neighbors for help. I heard later about the valiant actions of those two neighbors who started cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the emergency personnel who helped save my life. I found out not only was I given medications on scene, but also intubated and shocked five times with an automated external defibrillator (AED).

Later, I researched sudden cardiac arrest and found that the survival rate outside of a hospital is usually less than 10%. It’s a wonderful story. And while I rather wish I hadn’t had to play a role in it, I am nonetheless thrilled for the subsequent story it has allowed me to live.

I have been a dental hygienist for more than 30 years. Currently, I teach continuing education courses for North Carolinas Area Health Education Centers across the state. When I provide dental hygiene treatment to patients and also provide dental team members job knowledge and hands on skills, I get to help both groups obtain confident smiles.

Becoming a fortunate member of the less than 10% of people who survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest did more than make me thankful, it sparked the thought of a new way to deliver confident smiles to individuals and the friends and family who love them. As my own recovery progressed, I made the decision to take the classes necessary to get certified through the American Heart Association in teaching cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to others. Thus From The Heart CPR was born! Today, in addition to continuing to practice clinical dental hygiene, I teach CPR to various groups. Dental office teams, community athletic organizations, small businesses, churches, babysitters, new moms, and friendly gatherings in various neighborhoods are a representative sampling of my participants thus far. A significant portion of the monies collected from class fees and donations helps me purchase AEDs for nonprofit organizations in my area. These organizations then host a CPR class and learn how to properly use and maintain their new AED unit. I am so very glad I am able to pay it forward in some small way!

From Dimensions of Dental Hygiene. November/December 2022;20(11)8.

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