As told by Laura Metro, the founder of CPR Party™
"Most nights I go into my son’s room and I listen to his heart. I look and listen for his breath and his heart beat because there was a time when neither was there. When Clay was 3 years old, he drown. He was discovered at the bottom of the pool. My husband and I were on a run while our friends watched our kids. We were greeted by our six year old daughter screaming, “I think Clay died! I think Clay died!” The visible panic and terror on her face was evident. As though our brains were protecting us from this unimaginable truth, we couldn’t process what she said. We just knew something was horrifically wrong. We ran into the pool and were confronted with the vision of our precious baby boy lying grey, on the pool deck. Our friend was trying to do CPR. Help arrived. The female paramedic was pounding on my baby boy's chest while tears streamed down her face. I couldn't watch it anymore and I thought of my daughter and what she must be feeling. I ran to the house to check on her. The kids had been whisked away as soon as Matt & I arrived on the scene.
I found her in the house. I put my hands on her little face and kissed her gently. She looked at me with terror in her eyes. She had the courage to ask, “Is he dead?” I said, “No. But he is very sick and mommy has to get on helicopter now so we can get him to the hospital.” She said, "What should I do?" I said, "Pray." Then, I heard screaming. It was the first responders telling me it’s time to go. I kissed my daughter again and I ran out the door. I wouldn't see her again for a week.
I was told to get in the ambulance with Clay where we were transported to the fire station. There we waited for the medivac to arrive. It landed on a field next to the fire station. It was clear the pilot was assessing me to see if I was mentally stable to take the ride with my son. I was cleared to go. I kissed my husband, put on the helmet they handed me and ran to the chopper.
Once airborne riding up the east coast from Bethany Beach, DE to a children's hospital in Wilmington, DE, I heard over the headphones in my helmet that Clay was going into cardiac arrest. I had a vision of going into my son's room at home after he had died. In that moment, I wanted to jump out of the helicopter. This indescribable feeling was just too much for any human to experience. But in the next instant, I remembered something I had heard before... "be where your feet are." So I said to myself, "right now they are keeping him alive. He is alive. He is going to be OK." I then spoke, for the first time since getting in the helicopter, to the pilot and said "can you turn these off?" pointing to my helmet. He flipped a switch and I couldn't hear the communication between the paramedics and the pilot anymore. Then I said, "how much time?" He pointed to a clock that was counting down. It said 14 minutes and 26 seconds left before we landed. I spent the next 14 minutes and 26 seconds with my eyes closed saying repeatedly, like a mantra, "He's going to be OK. He's going to be OK. He's going to be OK."
After our 30 minute helicopter ride, we finally landed at the hospital. Once inside the ER, I was met by dozens of yellow coated, blue gloved doctors and nurses who promptly swarmed Clay like bees. I was pushed out of the way. I stood to the side and watched them work on him. As though I was floating above in a dream, everything went into slow motion. I was in shock and freezing. Much later that evening, we were told that the next 24 hours was critical. If his brain began to swell, they would not be able to control it. We sat vigil as he lay in a coma for two days.
Then, it happened. While taking a brief moment to eat something, the nurse rushed into the cafeteria and said, “Mom. Dad. He’s waking.” Friends and family surrounded his hospital bed. He was understandably groggy. We knew he was able to breath on his own but we didn’t know how much brain damage he sustained. This was the moment of truth. We waited for signs. As time went on, I became increasingly anxious then panicked. I didn’t see any recognition from him. He spoke no words. He made no familiar gestures. I looked at my husband and said, “I don’t think he knows who we are.” Our friend looked at our son and said “Clay, do you see mommy?” Then, it happened…without hesitation he looked up and into my eyes. I exhaled in a way I hadn’t in my lifetime. Simultaneously, we all experienced emotion flooding our bodies and braced ourselves on the bed as it was difficult to stand. It was and will be forever the most grateful moment of my life. I have never forgotten the gift I was given that day. Later, I knew why that gift was given to me and now to you.
Later, I learned that Clay's survival was could only be explained by the bystander he received from our friend. Not one doctor or professional that worked on him that day could explain it any other way. I became obsessed with learning everything I could about CPR and drowning. I quickly learned that,
95% of people who have suffered a heart attack die on the way to the hospital if they have not received bystander CPR.
The total cost of non-fatal drowning is $6.2 billion annually and it's totally preventable.
For every death by drowning, there are eight non-fatal drowning events.
Most people do not get trained in CPR because of lack of time or resources.
Drowning is the number 1 killer of children ages 0-4 and the number two killer of kids 2-14.
I was blown away! Why didn't I know CPR? Why didn't I know how common, fast & silent drowning is? What was more upsetting was that those in need couldn't afford CPR training or swim lessons. As though their loved ones were less important, it was all unacceptable to me and this foundation was born.
That was nine years ago and as they say, the rest is history. We started our unique CPR training method, the CPR Party™, think, in-home shopping party, take out the shopping, put in CPR awareness and you have a CPR Party! You and your guests learn CPR in a fun & fast way without the fuss or finance of an hours long certification class. We trademarked the name and are in the process of trademarking the concept as it caught on in a big way!
We are on the board of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance and have told our story at national conferences. We've appeared on Good Morning America, NBC News with Lester Holt and in the Washington Post among other online and broadcast outlets. Last but definitely not least, we have the amazing honor of working with Michael & Nicole Phelps, "Mama" Phelps through the Michael Phelps Foundation!
I'm telling you all this not to brag but to show you a sampling of what we've done with your donations in the past. This year we have two major focusses, funding the purchase of more in-home CPR Party™ kits and the creation of customized kits and our CPR Party™ "Firsts" instructor portal and online training center.
This foundation was born from the heart, is driven by the heart and ultimately protects the heart. Please consider giving any amount you can so we can continue giving people the skill to save a life.
This is not the typical outcome for this story. In fact, for every death by drowning, there are eight non-fatal drowning events. These children and adults usually sustain brain injuries that require lifetime medical care. As a result, families are destroyed emotionally and financially.
CPR Party™ continues to raise awareness of the public health epidemic of drowning through our nationwide public relations efforts, founding membership in Families United To Prevent Drowning @notonemoredrowning , our work with the Michael Phelps Foundation @mpfoundation official partnership and the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) @PoolSafely Laura Metro, Founder of CPR Party™ serves as the Marketing Director and is on the board of the National Drowning Prevention Alliance (NDPA) @drownalliance