Stayin’ Alive: My Changing Engineering Perspective

Posted on Thursday, April 5th, 2018 by
In CPR, tagged in
rick worrel cpr team presentation

On May 14, 2016, my heart stopped for 15 minutes near the end of the PurpleStride 5K. Because bystanders began immediately performing CPR as soon as I collapsed, I am alive today to share my story. I’m asked fairly often how my life has changed in the last 23 months. Clearly, I have a better appreciation for life and am blessed with each new day. Yet, one thing that has surprised me is how my engineering and design philosophies have evolved.

Last month, I spoke about that experience at the Transportation Engineers Association of Missouri (TEAM) conference. I shared more details about my survival from sudden cardiac arrest, the importance of CPR training and intervention, and the evolution of my engineering philosophy. You can access a copy of the presentation here.

I discussed how engineering has become more personal to me. In fact, I’ve found engineering is human. As professional engineers, we are committed to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Before 2016, I viewed the public broadly and impersonally. Now, it is much more individual. The public now has names and faces. Our designs can change behaviors. By simply connecting sidewalks, adding trails to street projects, and designing safe bike lanes, we encourage activity resulting in lower cases of heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It’s much more personal to me than ever.

I’ve also embraced equipping as many people as I can with CPR training. Perhaps it seems intimidating, yet bystanders/strangers jumped in on May 14, 2016 and saved my life. CPR is rather simple. There are just two things to remember in an emergency.

  1. Call 911 (or ask someone nearby to call).
  2. Immediately begin performing chest compressions to the beat of Stayin’ Alive, pushing hard and fast. Continue until medical responders arrive. Mouth-to-mouth is no longer required – just chest compressions.

Ready to learn CPR? Find a class in your area here.

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