Cardiac arrest survivor offers CPR training

A Montreal woman wants to help as many people as possible learn this life-saving skill



Photo Credit: Living Proof

At the age of 30, Katrysha Gellis (pictured below) was living an active and healthy life when she unexpectedly collapsed at work. Two of her colleagues — one who was trained in CPR and one who was not — began performing compressions on her with the guidance of 911 responders. When firefighters arrived on the scene, they attached a defibrillator to her heart and shocked it twice before paramedics arrived and rushed her to the hospital.  

Gellis says she only survived because of the quick response and action taken by her two coworkers just minutes after her collapse. “CPR gave me a second chance at life,” Gellis said. “It’s an important skill to have because in an emergency situation, it can mean the difference between life and death. It saved my life”

When she went back to work, Gellis’ boss organized a group CPR training session for the office. On the one-year anniversary of her cardiac arrest in 2016, Gellis organized a class for her friends and family and this motivated her to get certified to teach CPR through the Heart and Stroke Foundation. 

Last October, she launched Living Proof, which offers private and public CPR training. The course is for adults and children over the age of 9. The two-and-a-half hour class costs $55 per person and participants receive a certificate.

Some of the course materials include why CPR is needed, the difference between cardiac arrest and a heart attack, and what to do when someone is choking. Participants practice compressions, learn how to attach defibrillators on mannequins, and go through adult and child scenarios.

Gellis, who works at a graphic design agency, says she was an optimistic person before her cardiac arrest, and this has not changed. She says she wants to use this second chance at life to share her knowledge and hopefully save someone’s life.

“We can’t control life but we can control what we say and do, and how we act,” Gellis says. “I am choosing to turn this into something positive.”

Gellis offers corporate training at office buildings or private training at home for groups of up to 12 people. Drop-in classes are also available at the Christ Church Beaurepaire in Beaconsfield and at different locations downtown Montreal.

For more information, visit livingproofcpr.com/learn-cpr.

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