Thomas Lantz poses with his mother, Susan, eight months after her 2015 heart attack when he and his father, John, performed CPR and helped save her. Thomas received the Boy Scout Medal of Merit for his efforts.


At 3 a.m. March 8, 2015, Susan Lantz felt horrible and woke up her husband, John.

“He thought I was having a seizure,” she said.

Instead, the 48-year-old Susan slipped into cardiac arrest.

“I remember not feeling well, and then waking up in the hospital several days later,” she said. “I don’t remember anything in between.”

What kept her alive — and miraculously allowed her to experience a full recovery — was nearly eight minutes of cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) administered by John and their then-16-year-old son, Thomas.

“I dealt with doctors at Evangelical, Geisinger and the hospital at the University of Pennsylvania — they all told me that the chances of my recovery increased dramatically because John and Thomas acted so quickly,” said Susan, who is the vice president of student life at Susquehanna University.

According to statistics from the American Heart Association, about 90 percent of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest will die — however, 45 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims survived when bystander CPR was administered. CPR, especially if administered immediately after cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival, the association reports.

Jerry Shreck, the strength and conditioning coach at Bucknell University, witnessed the positive effects of CPR in person as he helped resuscitate someone at a power lifting meet.

“The guy decided to drop 350 pounds on his chest. He stopped breathing, and we weren’t sure if it stopped his heart or not,” he said. “One of the other guys started working on him. I got in to help with chest compressions, and the victim woke up just as I started.”

Shreck credited his extensive training in CPR as the catalyst that allowed him to respond right away.

“I never hesitate. I don’t want to say it was instinctive — I was trained to respond to situations like that,” he said.

In the Lantz household, both John (via EMT training) and Thomas (Boy Scouts and lifeguard classes) were aided by prior CPR instruction.

“The best thing anyone can do is take a CPR class — you never know when you may need to react to a situation and it is imperative to act quickly,” said Gerri Danilowicz, resuscitation training center coordinator at Geisinger Medical Center. “Pennsylvania passed a new law that anyone who graduates high school needs to know how to do CPR, and that is a initiative that has the potential to really save lives.”

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