Lifesaving lesson: Local man teaching bystander CPR techniques

Omar Carter’s heart stopped on July 11, 2013. He was playing basketball at the Grady Cole Center in Charlotte. 

“I know when I had my cardiac arrest out of 200 or 300 people there only one person touched me,” recalled Carter.

He laid there on the gym floor waiting for someone to start CPR and waiting for 13 minutes before paramedics arrived.

Carter was diagnosed with an enlarged heart when he was a teenager. He saw specialists in Charlotte and one of the top sports cardiologists in the country. They agreed and cleared him to keep playing basketball. Carter played basketball for App State and professionally overseas.

“Doctors thought I was fine to play,” he said. “I didn’t know it was a real problem until I had my cardiac arrest.”

Now, 31, Carter has launched the Omar Carter Foundation. He wants to teach one million people bystander CPR so that more people are not afraid to jump in and help until the professionals arrive.

Carter is teaming up with his doctors and nurses at Atrium Health to help spread the message. Together, they reached more than 1,000 CMS student athletes at this year’s Heart of a Champion Day.

Amy Tucker is one of Carter’s nurses at Atrium Health.

“He’s more than my patient. He’s my good friend and I’m really proud of him. My goal is to help him reach as many people as he can,” said Tucker.

If you see a person collapse Tucker says you need to call 911 immediately. Be sure to put your phone on speaker and set it down on the ground. Then, take your and put it on top of your other one and start pushing hard and fast on the person’s chest.

The lifesaving lesson is simple.

Tucker says gone are the days of breathing into someone’s mouth. The hope is that by pressing hard and fast to the tune of Staying Alive or Beyoncé’s Crazy in love the compressions will give the patient a fighting chance.

“I’d like to see more people like Omar running around,” said Tucker.

Carter remains undiagnosed but now has a device to make sure his heart doesn’t stop again. He’s on a mission to give people the tools they need to jump in and do something.

“Do something rather than nothing that’s the whole motto,” said Carter.

The Omar Carter Foundation also works to identify locations for AED devices along with community outreach.

The organization will host a gala July 20. So far, more than 10,000 people have been trained on the bystander CPR technique.