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Knowing CPR, A Matter Of Life And Death

The Houston Fire Department reminds us that learning CPR can save a life, especially a family member. Donald Willis is thankful to be alive because of the quick actions of his son and wife, and to members of Fire Station 49 in West Houston.


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According to the American Heart Association, about 80% of cardiac arrests happen at home, and 92% of sudden cardiac arrest victims die before they get to the hospital.

Todd Willis was at home when he noticed his Dad didn’t look well.

“It was just one of those things where I instantly saw him, and I knew this was a very serious thing. And the first thing I did, I called my mother, cause I know she’s better at medical things than I am, and right then she tells me to call 911. She starts the CPR and … “

Jeanine Willis: “When he called me in, I could see that my husband was in distress, obviously stressed and … “

Jeanine Willis knew that she needed to act quickly, and started CPR before Houston EMS arrived to take over. It was touch and go for a while, but Donald Willis pulled through. He and his family went to Fire Station 49 in West Houston to thank the personnel for saving his life.

Donald Willis and son
Jeanine Willis looks on as husband Donald Willis presents a certificate to their son Todd.

“I can’t appreciate what the fire fighters did, or what my wife did or my son did, but I’m sure glad they did it now.”

Assistant EMS director Dr Keith Gates says the Willis family’s knowledge of initiating the first 2 links in the “Chain of Survival”: calling 911 and starting CPR with the help of the 9-11 call-taker. It makes the difference:

“We run six cardiac arrests on average during a typical day in Houston, so when we get a good outcome like this one today, it’s always a great feeling to meet them, to see them smiling, to see them with their families. It makes the long hours worthwhile.”

Dr Gates stressed the importance of knowing CPR, and the 4-links in the Chain of Survival. You can find more information at

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