The event empowered the community to respond confidently in an emergency cardiac arrest scenario

Overland Park Regional Medical Center made good use of February’s Leap Day by hosting a free interactive CPR/AED education event, “Leap Into Action,” to help people understand how to perform chest compressions properly and to use an AED (Automated External Defibrillator), which has simple instructions built into it so users can push one button then listen to the robot’s instructions.

“Alongside our community partners, we are honored to provide local athletes and their families hands-on CPR and AED education,” said Overland Park Regional Medical Center CEO Matt Sogard. “This educational event is one of the many ways we can support our community and ensure they are prepared to take action during an emergency situation.”

“Every day in the ER, we see the life-saving benefits of CPR firsthand, and we know what happens in the minutes following a heart attack is critical,” said Douglas Darden, M.D., a board-certified cardiac electrophysiologist at Kansas City Heart Rhythm Institute of HCA Midwest Health, and Director of the Sports Cardiology Clinic. “Since we do not have a perfect tool to identify potential causes of Sudden Cardiac Arrest, we must emphasize early defibrillation and CPR. CPR training classes are important, as is becoming familiar with how to use a defibrillator/AED. And, importantly, recognize Sudden Cardiac Arrest. The key to survival is early recognition and early defibrillation.”

Darden was joined by Rob Million, president of Kansas City Surf Soccer Club and father of collegiate soccer player Parker, whose life changed dramatically when he collapsed after a post-surgical physical therapy session in March 2023.

Million recalled his then 19-year-old son saying, “I just don’t feel good. And then he went ghost-white, collapsed, and wasn’t breathing. Parker showed signs of convulsing, and as his therapist moved him to the floor, I immediately called 9-1-1.”

The young athlete was rushed to Overland Park Regional Medical Center. Following a thorough examination, Krishna Pothineni, MD, a cardiac electrophysiologist at Kansas City Heart and Rhythm Institute of HCA Midwest Health, diagnosed him with Wolff-Parkinson-White (WPW) syndrome, a rare heart condition, often present at birth where an extra signaling pathway between the heart's upper and lower chambers ultimately causes a rapid heartbeat. The episodes of fast heartbeats seen in WPW syndrome usually aren't life-threatening, but serious heart problems can occur, especially in athletes.

“If Parker was in a situation requiring life-saving help until first responders arrived and I wasn’t around, I hope one of his friends or a bystander would know CPR and how an AED works,” Million said. “My prayer is that they would indeed ‘leap into action.’”

Darden and Million were joined by “Leap Into Action” partners American & International Training Institute, and Johnson County HeartSafe Foundation for hands-on CPR/AED education. The event was not for certification.

Overland Park Regional Medical Center is part of HCA Midwest Health, Kansas City’s largest healthcare provider.