Cardiac Companion offers instruction from both sides of the stretcher

It takes just minutes after suffering a heart attack for life-threatening consequences to come into play. Understanding how to react to such a situation takes training, empathy and experience, Cardiac Companion owner Nancy Capelle says.

Ms. Capelle’s new business consists of three main targets, she said on Thursday, which include motivational speaking, education on heart attacks and heart attack prevention, and CPR training classes.

As a volunteer EMT who previously suffered from complete cardiac arrest at the age of 40, Ms. Capelle said she understands the consequences of such traumatic events from both sides of the stretcher. This, she said, adds a great deal to the profundity of the CPR and educational classes she teaches.

“I don’t want to say that an instructor who hasn’t had a [cardiac] experience is less than, it’s just different,” she said. “I’ve also performed CPR on real people, because I’m an EMT. Not only have I experienced it during cardiac arrest, I’ve also been kneeling over patients and doing it for real. That is an incredible experience, because it’s really coming full circle.”

She offers CPR training is many different forms, including group and individual training for health care professionals. A customer is not required to seek a certification during any of Ms. Capelle’s programs.

“If someone gets a group of people together, or someone who is a health care professional needs to be re-certified, I come in with my bag of dummies and run through the whole certification program. Or even if it’s someone who doesn’t need to be certified but wants to know the information, I can do that as well,” she said.

A recent example of one of Cardiac Companion’s group sessions, Ms. Capelle said, was the administration of CPR training to the Wilton Moms group. The group had gotten 10 women together for a certification course.

“We went to someone’s house, set up the DVD, put the mannequins out on the floor, and it was great. You know how people have Botox parties? I think people should have CPR training parties. The goal is to make it fun, demystify it, and take the anxiety out,” she said.

Having the training conducted in person adds a whole new dimension to the understanding of CPR, Wilton mother and public relations representative for Cardiac Companion Michele Bennett said.

“I coached my daughter’s cheer squad for five minutes while she was cheering, and I had to take an online AED test. I was afraid I was going to panic even though I took the online test. Having it in person, and doing it hands-on is really important,” Ms. Bennett said.

Motivational speaking

Offering motivational speaking and educational engagements are additional aspects of Cardiac Companion. Ms. Capelle’s own experience suffering a heart attack allows her to speak on the topic with both confidence and insight, she said.

She will speak Friday, Feb. 28, at 10:45 a.m. at the Wilton YMCA’s Change of Heart program. The event is intended to raise awareness of heart disease in women. For information, visit cohworkout.com/WiltonFamilyYMCA.

In addition to speaking on heart disease, and the process of recovering from early-age heart attacks, she also uses her experience to help women re-evaluate the path of their lives. After living the majority of her life based on a prescription laid out to her by social expectations, suffering a heart attack encouraged her to look at life through a much more personal lens.

“When I was growing up in Greenwich, there was a prescription set on how to live your life. There was basically one path that included private school, country club stuff and boarding school,” she said. “My father always said, ‘Don’t waste time doing anything if you can’t put it on your résumé.’”

In the months after going into cardiac arrest, she realized those expectations had left her with many achievements, but little fulfillment.

“You get all the recognition, and you get all the things that make you feel worth more. I finally got a company BlackBerry. I was like, ‘Wow, the company will spend money to pay for my BlackBerry and send me to conferences and on business trips. This is awesome, I’m finally worth something.’ But I think that was a temporary thing.”

She continued to wonder what purpose her life would have outside those accolades.

“What else was I, really? I was married with two little, little kids who — from the minute they were born —  were in day care from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. I’m now trying to do the things I wish I had been able to do then.”

Information: cardiaccompanion.com.