Human Science Juniors Co-Found Group to Increase Bystander CPR Capacity

JANUARY 28, 2016 – Brandon Ferrell (NHS’17) and Nirmal Maitra (NHS’17) noticed a problem with life-threatening implications – a lack of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training among the general public.

So the two human science majors at the School of Nursing & Health Studies decided to do something about it.

“As we read about the increasing number of hearts attacks occurring in the U.S., the low rates of bystander CPR rates across the nation, and how the majority of people trained in CPR are health care professionals, we were inspired to come up with an innovative solution to increase the number of people trained and ready to perform CPR in the nation and the world,” Maitra explains.

Heroes for Hearts

What resulted is Heroes for Hearts, an international non-profit with chapters in Washington, D.C., and India. Maitra is currently president and Ferrell is vice president. International health majors Michaela Hitchner (NHS’19) and May-Linh Huynh (NHS’19) serve as secretary and treasurer, respectively.

“We believe that the community, and especially students, are an untapped resource in D.C., the U.S.A., and the world that can be taught this simple but life-saving skill – in as little as only 20 minutes, which has the potential to result in numerous lives being saved,” Ferrell says. “The mission of our organization is to empower and better equip communities around the world to be prepared to safely and efficiently act in any situation in which CPR and AED [automated external defibrillators] are required.”

Heroes for Hearts provides free CPR training to individuals and businesses in the community and also offers First Aid, AED, and basic CPR training. David Milzman, MD, professor of emergency medicine and associate dean for informatics and research at Georgetown University School of Medicine, serves as the group’s medical advisor.

Overall, the student founders say, the organization has provided CPR training to more than 500 D.C. community members. Additionally, Ferrell, Maitra, and Milzman have testified at D.C. City Council hearings on two CPR-related bills.

Enjoyable Time

Both students say they have enjoyed their time at Georgetown and in the human science major.

“Before coming to college, I had no interest in research, but after talking with my faculty advisor, I was able to secure a research position with the cardiac surgery team at Children’s National Medical Center, where I have now worked on five different research projects,” Ferrell says. “Overall, I believe that human science and the NHS at Georgetown have provided me with an enriching college experience, while also providing me with the right resources to be best prepared for medical school and my future career.”

Maitra, also pre-med, adds that he has enjoyed the collaborative environment among students, their peers, and their faculty members.

“The human science faculty have been outstanding, and though the classes can be immensely challenging at times, they have always been engaging, build upon each other, and push students to expand their skills in connecting various topics together and in information processing,” he says. “One aspect of the NHS that I especially appreciate is the supportive environment among the students.”

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