Friday, January 18, 2013

Spotlight on Saving Lives: Jody Drajem

It was 1:30 a.m. on a July morning and Jody Drajem's husband, Mark, had just returned from his shift as a police officer when a frantic knocking on the door began. The Drajems' neighbor, Aletta, was at the door looking for help - her husband Mike had stopped breathing, and his skin was taking on a greyish, ashen tone. He was suffering from cardiac arrest.

Aletta had called 911 immediately, but was also looking to her neighbors for help before the paramedics arrived. Not only is Mark a Denver Police Officer, his wife Jody is also a paramedic and lead Red Cross CPR instructor for Denver Health.  In fewer than 90 seconds, Mark and Jody had raced over to the neighbor's house and pulled Mike from the bed onto the floor, where Jody immediately began chest compressions.
The fire, police and then paramedics arrived within the next five minutes - but those entire five minutes, Jody was furiously continuing to administer chest compressions, keeping vital oxygen flowing through Mike's blood vessels. Even after help arrived, Jody continued to assist the teams with the AED (defibrillator) and intubation.

The survival rate for cardiac arrest outside of hospitals is typically low, but the immediate administration of CPR made an enormous difference in Mike's case and saved his life. Mike was back to normal life by day 12 after the incident, with no long-term damage to is body or organs - with the exception of the ribs that Jody cracked while administering the compressions (this is totally normal and means the compressions are the correct force!).

Jody is an American Red Cross instructor for Denver Health and a paramedic assigned to the Denver fire department. She's been on the job for 16 years, and teaches more than 60 CPR classes a year to groups like the Rockies, Broncos, college classes, fire department, FBI and State Senate security teams. Yet, even with all that classroom and instruction experience, Jody now has an entirely new appreciation for CPR’s benefits.

You can obtain a CPR certification or renewal through the Red Cross. Search classes and register today at

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