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Bored College Student Tries Airport CPR Kiosk — and Literally Saves a Life Just Days Later

Airport layovers and flight delays can be a real headache for most of us — and a logistical nightmare for parents with small kiddos. But new interactive kiosks are proving to be literal lifesavers for passengers, offering free CPR tutorials while they wait.

Just ask recent college grad Matthew Lickenbrock, who says he simply “had time to kill” back in April 2015 when he gave the kiosk a try during a stopover at Dallas Ft. Worth International Airport.

“It only took a minute or two to watch the instructional video that explained Hands-Only CPR,” he tells Babble. “It explained how to place one hand over the other, place your hands in the center of the chest, and push down hard and fast.”

Image Source: The American Heart Association

Three days later, though, that minute or two of instruction would prove fateful when he saw a fellow University of Dayton student lying on the ground.

Sean Ferguson had been struck by lightning and was in cardiac arrest when Lickenbrock found him and immediately began administering chest compressions, just as he’d learned at the airport. As it turned out, Lickenbrock was the only bystander in the campus crowd that day who actually knew what to do ─ and thanks to his quick thinking, he saved Ferguson’s life.

“I am here today because he took the time to stop and learn,” Ferguson later declared in a video statement. Speaking with Babble, Ferguson goes one step further: “Simply put, Matt is my guardian angel,” he shares.

Image Source: Matthew Lickenbrock

The CPR kiosk effort is led by American Heart Association (AHA) in partnership with the Anthem Foundation. Using a touch screen, users watch a brief demonstration video, practice skills on a mannequin to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive,” and take a 30-second test. Scores are based on hand placement, compression depth, and compression rate.

The latest kiosk was unveiled earlier this month at Orlando International, and because of the airport’s high traffic, it’s expected to significantly impact CPR awareness. According to the AHA, more than 359,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of a hospital each year, with more than 20 percent occurring in public places. Lickenbrock says he learned that people don’t often perform CPR because they’re afraid or don’t know what to; however, he felt confident after just minutes of kiosk-led practice.

In an attempt to empower the public, kiosks are now stationed at nine U.S. airports. In addition to Dallas Ft. Worth International and Orlando International, they’re also at O’Hare International, Indianapolis International, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International, Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall, Cleveland Hopkins International, Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky, and Harrisburg International. But they’re not just popping up at airports — you can also find the kiosks at four other highly-trafficked sites around the country, including AHA National Center (Dallas, Texas), McCormick Place (Chicago, Illinois), Carnegie Science Center (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) and Cincinnati Museum Center (Cincinnati, Ohio). And next month, Lickenbrock and Ferguson will help launch yet another kiosk at the University of Dayton, where their lives unexpected crossed paths.

Image Source: The American Heart Association

“I’m an ordinary person who was bored in an airport, did something simple, was in the right place at the right time, and saved a man’s life,” Lickenbrock tells Babble. “That feels incredible, and knowing that millions of other ordinary people can take a moment to learn this skill and have a story like mine is exciting and hopeful.”

It certainly is.

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