It happened when Northview High School soccer teammates Tyler Menhart and Noah Weeda were working out together one day last spring. Tyler turned around to see his friend lying face down, breathing heavily. Tyler said, “Noah, I’m going to call 911. You need to let me know if you’re joking, right now.”
Noah wasn’t joking. By the time Tyler ran to his phone, called 911 and returned, Noah had stopped breathing. Prompted by the dispatcher, Tyler turned him over and began performing CPR, a technique he’d been taught in Boy Scouts.
“It all started coming back to me, everything I’d learned in sixth grade,” Tyler recalled. After a few minutes, Plainfield Fire Department responders arrived, followed by Life EMS paramedics who transported Noah to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. Doctors there found Noah suffered from hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the heart walls that can cause cardiac arrest in young athletes.
Nearly 357,000 people a year suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, and only 8 percent survive, according to the American Heart Association
Thanks to Tyler’s quick actions and the paramedics, Noah’s heart started beating again. Today, with a defibrillator implanted in his chest, he is playing soccer again at Northview alongside his friend. Both are grateful Tyler learned CPR, and support a proposed law that all students must do so.
“I never thought I was going to have to use it, let alone on my best friend,” Tyler said.
They shared their story at a recent press conference announcing a proposed law to require all Michigan students be trained in CPR before they graduate. State Sen. Tonya Schuitmaker and Rep. Thomas Hooker introduced companion bills into the State Legislature.
Law for Life
If approved, the measure would add 100,000 qualified CPR providers to respond in the critical minutes following a heart attack, and would add Michigan to the 28 states with such laws.
“Today’s students are tomorrow’s lifesavers,” said Hooker, a former teacher and coach, adding the training could be provided at low cost by qualified volunteers from fire departments. Some middle school students in Northview have received such training from Plainfield firefighters.
Dr. Monica Goble, a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Michigan, said applying “bystander CPR” before medical technicians arrive can nearly triple heart-attack victims’ survival rate and reduce brain damage. Nearly 357,000 people a year suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital, and only 8 percent survive, according to the American Heart Association.
For Tyler and Noah, friends since kindergarten and now juniors, having all students CPR-trained is a no-brainer. Tyler said it took him only about 30 minutes to learn the skill he suddenly needed that day on the Northview High School football field.
“This is something they’re going to be able to use a whole lifetime,” Tyler said. “For it to take only 30 minutes, it isn’t even a question” that students should learn CPR.
“Any life saved is a good thing,” Noah said. “This would only help save more lives.”