Post by Patricia Billinger, originally published on Colorado Stories.
Google “pizza delivery guy CPR” and you’ll come across dozens of news articles from all over the country about Anson Lemmer, a 19-year-old who saved a stranger’s life using the CPR skills he first learned through Red Cross babysitter training when he was just turning into a teenager.
His all-American look, humble hero’s mien and unforgettable quote – “I left a pizza boy and returned a pizza man” – have endeared him to the world and thrust him into the spotlight. He’s a fantastic kid with a unique story.
Anson Lemmer (R) used CPR skills he learned in a Red Cross
Babysitter class to save a man’s life.
But what’s most unusual about Anson’s story is that it got told at all.
Why? First of all, Anson’s story is unique because we found out and got a chance to thank him.
The Lifesaver Award
On July 17, the Red Cross presented Anson with a Red Cross Lifesaver Award for using his CPR skills to save a life. We present a handful of the awards every year, and it’s one of the favorite aspects of my job. Just like Anson, nearly all of the recipients are humble and say they were just doing what their training taught them to do. In fact, an untold number of the everyday heroes who perform CPR never receive recognition of any kind because no one alerts us or the media to the lifesaving work they performed.
On the same day we presented Anson with an award, we traveled 168 miles away to recognize a Kremmling man with a Lifesaver Award for pulling a man out of a lake and reviving him using CPR. The story made the local news, but didn’t sky rocket to national attention like Anson’s tale.
The Red Cross honored Todd Nelson on the same day as Anson.
Todd saved a man’s life by using lifeguarding skills he learned
decades ago through a Red Cross training.
Call to Get Trained
Reason #2 Anson’s story is unique: Not enough everyday people recognize the importance of knowing CPR and First Aid, and so they don’t get trained. When an emergency strikes, bystanders often call 911 but otherwise might not know how to help. Some people make a valiant attempt to help, guided by 911 operators and/or what they’ve watched on TV. Others, unfortunately, fall prey to the “bystander” effect and assume that someone else will do something about the emergency.
Cardiac arrest strikes more than 500,000 people every year in the United States. On June 30, 2015, the Institute of Medicine released a report outlining recommendations for increasing cardiac arrest survival rates. One of the key recommendations was educating and training the general public in how to recognize and respond to cardiac emergencies.
In my six years with the Red Cross, I’ve met about a dozen everyday heroes like Anson. Each story is different…
- A father and son who saved their neighbor’s life
- A young man who saved his friend from choking
- The teen who came to the rescue of another teen on prom night
- A man who performed CPR on his relatives after all three were struck by lightning
- Numerous people who have saved their coworkers’ lives…
…But what they each share in common is that these heroes got trained and used their training – sometimes decades later! – to take action and save a life. As so many of the heroes have told me:
“When you take the training, you hope you’ll never have to use it.”
“ I never thought I would use it.”
“I thought I would never remember what to do. And then it all came back to me.”
You never know when an emergency will strike. It could be at work, at home, at the park, on the highway.
We need more Ansons out there. And we can have them!
YOU could be the next Anson. You could end up saving the life of someone you love dearly – or the life of a total stranger. You might not achieve fame and fortune, but if you could save a life…wouldn’t it be worth it?
Read more about Anson’s and Todd’s heroic stories here: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/Two-Locals-Honored-for-Using-CPR-to-Save-Lives . If you’re inspired, we hope you will sign up for a CPR class near you or take one online today at www.redcross.org/classes.