"I can't explain it. It was the worst feeling in the world," said Roberson, a Taylorsville resident and the mother of four children under the age of 17. "It was terrifying. I tell everybody the story but it's hard to relive that moment because it was the scariest moment of my life. It was terrible.
"It was the worst thing in the world because you never want anything to happen to your child. ... I couldn't be more thankful that we were at their house at that time," she said, referring to Johnny and Charlotte Frasier recognizing Holdyn's symptoms and responding with cardiopulmonary resuscitation. "I just know that the Lord was with us and knew that if anything was going to happen to him [it was important for] him to be there."
Now trained in CPR, Roberson and her husband, Ricky, are feeling more confident to respond should a cardiac arrest or breathing emergency arise. Referring to cases similar to the Robersons' experience, Laura Cleary -- educational services director for the Northwest Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross -- said it is important to learn how to perform CPR correctly because one never knows when they will be faced with an emergency situation.
"[It is a] life-saving tool. You can't say enough," Cleary said. "It's not about knowing whether to act or not, it's making sure you have the skills you need to help. We have lots of cases where people have stood by and done nothing because they were afraid they weren't going to do it right. But the steps that are used in CPR definitely help victims. It's the step before the actual first responder gets there. It does increase the survival rate ... because basically the person that is needing the CPR, their body has completely stopped.
"So it is rescue breaths that are helping someone continue to breathe or if it's the actual chest compressions that's helping the blood to recirculate getting the heart going again, all the steps are definitely a major survival [measure]. They used to would say that within about 30 to 60 seconds that if [CPR] isn't started, your body functions start shutting down. Your major organs start shutting down. So anything that you can do to help that, whether it be the compressions or rescue breaths obviously either or both, help you survive."
Conducted throughout the year at the Red Cross' Cartersville office, CPR classes consist of workbook and video lessons, and demonstrations from instructors, in addition to participants performing CPR on adult-sized mannequins. Individuals who successfully complete their training will receive CPR certification cards that are viable for one year since the number of compressions and breaths are occasionally changed.
Cleary said the Red Cross is looking at initiating a Citizens CPR campaign in January, which will adopt the latest American Heart Association guidelines. Released in October, the AHA's recommendations include switching CPR's A-B-C sequence -- airway, breathing, compressions -- to C-A-B -- compressions, airway, breathing. Until an automated external defibrillator or medical help arrives, those trained in CPR should perform 30 chest compressions, followed by opening the victim's airway and providing two breaths.
According to the AHA's website, www.heart.org, "All victims in cardiac arrest need chest compressions. In the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest, victims will have oxygen remaining in their lungs and bloodstream, so starting CPR with chest compressions can pump that blood to the victim's brain and heart sooner. Research shows that rescuers who started CPR with opening the airway took 30 critical seconds longer to begin chest compressions than rescuers who began CPR with chest compressions.
"The change in the CPR sequence applies to adults, children and infants, but excludes newborns. Other recommendations, based mainly on research published since the last AHA resuscitation guidelines in 2005:
* During CPR, rescuers should give chest compressions a little faster, at a rate of at least 100 times a minute.
* Rescuers should push deeper on the chest, compressing at least 2 inches in adults and children and 1.5 inches in infants.
* Between each compression, rescuers should avoid leaning on the chest to allow it to return to its starting position.
* Rescuers should avoid stopping chest compressions and avoid excessive ventilation.
* All 9-1-1 centers should assertively provide instructions over the telephone to get chest compressions started when cardiac arrest is suspected."
To register for one of Red Cross' CPR classes, visit www.nwgaredcross.org or call 770-382-0981.