Mayo Clinic hosts public CPR training

(ABC 6 News) – According to Mayo Clinic, nearly 350,000 Americans suffer from cardiac arrest each year and almost 90% of them don’t survive.

Because of that, one Mayo Clinic doctor is using her platform to ensure communities suffering more frequently from cardiac arrests are better prepared.

Mayo Clinic associate professor, Dr. LaPrincess Brewer, says there’s a greater chance of suffering from cardiac arrests in the U.S. if you’re African-American, and that is why she is doing her part to lessen the disparity in African-American communities compared to their white counterparts.

Dr. Brewer decided she needed to offer more CPR training for African-American churches and community members following the sudden cardiac arrest of Buffalo Bills safety, Damar Hamlin, on January 2, 2023. Many, including Dr. Brewer, were shocked at how this could happen to a 24-year-old professional athlete.

This lit a fire in Dr. Brewer to make sure that people understand how much more risky it is for African-Americans to go into cardiac arrest.

“I was immediately compelled to start this initiative for CPR training. I wanted to make sure that my community members were able to intervene in the case that this happened in the community,” said Dr. Brewer.

The community is learning from others as well, including two men who know firsthand just how dangerous cardiac arrest can be.

Bruce Wizik and Gene Johnson are survivors of cardiac arrests. It’s been over 15 years since they both experienced their own, now retiring from being school teachers to teach others about cardiac arrests.

They want communities across Minnesota to learn how they can save lives if they ever experience this life-saving emergency. They’re also putting the message out on how different a cardiac arrest is from a heart attack.

“So many people don’t know the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest. A heart attack is a plumbing problem, and cardiac arrest is an electrical problem,” said Wizik.

“Another big thing about a heart attack is that you’re conscious. You’re conscious and aware. With sudden cardiac arrest you are not conscious, you are gone,” added Johnson.

Dr. Brewer has lost someone she loved after they suffered from cardiac arrest, and she wants to make sure no one else has to go through it.

“I’ve had family members that have had a cardiac arrest in the field and unfortunately they did not survive. So this is one other thing that is why I am doing this for the African-American community,” said Dr. Brewer.