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Teen has big heart for CPR training program

Collegiate student Elizabeth Meister.(January 30, 2019)
Collegiate student Elizabeth Meister.(January 30, 2019) The Wichita Eagle

When Elizabeth Meister was looking for a capstone project as part of her volunteer efforts, she wanted to find a project that could make a difference in people’s lives.

What she decided on may make more than a difference, it could help save people’s lives.

More than a year ago, Meister, now 17 and a senior at Wichita Collegiate, launched Project Heart to Heart, or H2H, teaching hands-only CPR to students and adults.

A Cleveland Clinic survey released in February 2018 found that while half of Americans said they know CPR, only one in six knew that hands-only CPR is the recommended method. Only one in 10 of the 1,000 people surveyed knew that the correct compression rate is 100-120 pushes per minute. The Bee Gees’ classic disco hit “Stayin’ Alive” has the perfect beat, according to the American Heart Association.

Because she’s taken both babysitter and lifeguard training and has volunteered with the American Heart Association, Meister has been CPR-trained.

“My younger sister, Emily, was my motivation and inspiration for my project,” Meister wrote. “She was born with a cardiac arrhythmia, an abnormal heart rhythm.”

Meister and her mother, Lori, who is her co-trainer, have trained approximately 2,000 students and adults and have taught an additional 7,000 about the importance of CPR, Meister wrote. They’ve gone to schools and public events like Wichita Thunder hockey games to train and spread the word, said Meister, who is also a volunteer for the American Heart Association.

She strongly encourages people to not be shy about visiting the H2H table, which has “faceless, slightly creepy mannequins. There is no shame in learning or refreshing a life-saving skill.”

Meister already has a long list of organizations and efforts for which she volunteers. As an officer of Collegiate’s Pro-Humanitate volunteer club, she helps coordinate volunteer activities for herself and her fellow students. Her family is active in volunteering with Catholic Charities and the Lord’s Diner.

Meister, whose father, Gregory, is a physician, said she is considering a career in medicine. Several of her academic projects also involve health-related issues, like her H2H volunteer project.

As part of a robotics and innovation class, Meister is working on developing a prosthetic flipper for a sea turtle named Montel at the Florida Keys Sea Turtle Hospital, which she and her family have visited while on vacation in the Keys. In chemistry, she’s on a research team examining and analyzing harmful vapors produces by an e-cigarette. The group will present their research findings at a University of Kansas medical forum in April.

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