CPR SAVES: Teen uses skills learned in class to save sister - KMSP-TV

CPR SAVES: Teen uses skills learned in class to save sister

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CHASKA, Minn. (KMSP) -

A pair of sisters from Chaska, Minn., say you should never underestimate the importance of knowing how to perform CPR because the skills learned in an 8th grade class are the reason both are alive now.

Next year, a new state law that requires school districts to teach students CPR will go into effect -- and Sarah Matteson knows that instruction can save lives.

"It was going so fast, I didn't think about it," Matteson recalled. "I just did."

Matteson knew every second counted and that her baby sister's life was in danger.

"I thought she was dead because she was purple and cold," she admitted. "It was very scary."

The Minnesota family was at a South Dakota hotel and the kids were enjoying some time in the swimming pool before something went horribly wrong with 8-year-old Leah.

"My little brother comes out of the water, 'She's drowning! She's drowning!'" Matteson told Fox 9 News. "I jump up and she's at the bottom of the pool."

Matteson dove in, scooped up her sister and brought her onto the deck. Then, the 15-year-old let her instincts take over, relying on the life-saving training she received in her 8th grade health class to guide her.

"I started CPR, started the compressions -- holding nose, tilting head and breathing," she said. "It all went so fast."

Thanks to her sister and oxygen treatment at an area hospital, Leah survived the near-drowning.

"I didn't remember any of it," she said. "Didn't feel a thing. It's crazy that much happened."

Starting this fall, all high school students in Minnesota will be given basic CPR instruction as part of the curriculum, something that hasn't been mandated in the past.

"We're very excited about that," Red Cross Instructor Dave Teske said.

Teske believes making sure as many people as possible know what to do in an emergency is key to saving lives, and that's why he's eager to teach how to properly perform chest compressions on the center of the sternum.

"Using heel of the hand to press down at least 2 inches for adult, 2 inches for a child, and an inch and a half for infants," he said.

The Red Cross is on a mission to make sure at least one person in every household knows how to perform CPR -- but as for the Matteson sisters, they already know just how important those classroom lessons can be.

"Anything can happen -- freak accident just like my sister," Sarah Matteson said. "I think everyone should know what they're doing."

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