NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – Dr. Katherine Y. Brown is the founder of Learn CPR America.
Many days you’ll find her and her mannequin Sal, which stands for “Save a Life” out teaching anyone and everyone CPR for free.
“It’s like honk if you know CPR and if you don’t, pull over and I’m doing like free lessons for people,” Dr. Brown said.
Dr. Brown said she’ll teach the lifesaving technique to anyone, anywhere, whether it’s on a street corner or a park, because of alarming statistics.
“The lower the socio-economic status, the least likely they were to receive CPR in an emergency. Your zip code should not determine whether you live or die. Everyone should know CPR,” she said.
So now Dr. Brown and Sal seek out people in underserved neighborhoods to teach them hands-only CPR in just a few minutes.
“Two simple steps can help save a life. So, the two simple steps are to dial 911 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest. You push two inches deep, and you do about 100 to 120 compressions in a minute,” Dr. Brown explained.
Dr. Brown started teaching CPR in underserved neighborhoods on Chicago’s south side and now as a Nashville resident teaches throughout Middle Tennessee and beyond.
She’s taught more than 250,000 people so far. Her children now help teach, too.
Dr. Brown said her passion for CPR started when she was 16 because her grandmother and mother – both in nursing – suffered from life-threatening heart issues.
“I felt powerless and I needed to feel empowered,” she recalled.
So, Dr. Brown learned CPR.
Decades later her mother was in the hospital in the cardiac intensive care unit.
She went into cardiac arrest right in front of Dr. Brown.
“The resident froze, and I had to initiate responding to that,” she said.
Dr. Brown saved her mother’s life.
“My focus was, ‘How do we make this right? Are you comfortable doing this skill?’ The answer was no. So, let me teach you so that next time you will be comfortable, and you’ll be able to help save a life, and that was a great outcome,” she said.
And lifesaving outcomes are Dr. Brown’s passion.
Since she was 16, she’s been volunteering at the American Heart Association, and recently taught 70 students hands-only CPR.
“She’s definitely a hero. She is somebody that goes above and beyond and she’s also a connector so she’s always out in the community trying to ensure that she’s able to get people to not only learn but to make connections with one another and build community on top of saving people’s lives,” said Denise Costanza, AHA VP of Health Strategies.
Building community while continuing the CPR mission is even more important to Dr. Brown now, as she promised her mother right before she passed that she’d continue the work.
“Our life really is about that dash in the middle right? You got the date you’re born, the date you transition, but what you do in the middle makes a difference and that’s what her life was about, and she taught me that,” Dr. Brown said.
Dr. Brown said she plans to keep popping up at places where you’d least expect her.
“Coming into a beauty shop is very random,” Tyerian Roberts said. “I feel good about it. Like if somebody passed out right now, I would most definitely be like ok, I know that I could give them the chest compressions and know to call 911.
“CPR has to be a way of life. It cannot be an option. It has to be a requirement. That’s why I teach in such non-traditional places, so you’ll never know where you’ll find me cause I might show up at your door,” Dr. Brown said.
Dr. Brown was honored during a ceremony at Hyundai of Cool Springs on Wednesday. She received a plaque for her lifesaving efforts. The ceremony was part of News 2’s monthly recognition called Hyundai of Cool Springs Heroes.
Once a month News 2, along with Hyundai of Cool Springs, will highlight a public servant who goes above and beyond the call of duty.