Strong City student uses loss of "Papa" to encourage CPR lessons

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Gerald Ingalls was "Papa" to Carter Mann - and also one of his best friends.

"We check cows together. We burn pastures together. We baled hay together," recalled Carter. "I tripped in the mud once and fell and a calf jumped over me. He ran over to try to get me up."

With that in mind, the nine-year-old Strong City student was happy May 19, 2018, when mom and grandma went shopping, and left Carter and his younger brother Max with grandpa. Ingalls spent many years as Chase Co. Sheriff, and Carter was always curious.

"He had done CPR on two people when he was sheriff," Carter said. "I was gonna ask him another question about CPR, and I asked him about five times, maybe six. I got up and went over to him. I just saw his plate of macaroni rolling down his legs and I was like, 'Oh, no.' And then I said, 'Max, calm down, okay?' - because he had got up and looked, too, and Grandpa, or Papa, wouldn't respond."

Carter couldn't fine the phone to call 911 - Papa had put it in his back pocket - so he went to the front porch and yelled for help, then came back inside a and remembered something.

"I thought 30 strokes, and if it doesn't work, mouth to mouth," Carter said.

Carter's mom and Ingalls' daughter, Katie, met the boys at the hospital.

"Carter told me, 'Mommy I tried,' and then Jared told me, he pulled me aside and said Carter had tried to do CPR on Papa," Katie said.

How did he know what to do? Turns out, 18 months earlier, Carter's dad Jared went to a CPR class so he could coach Carter's baseball team.

"He was waiting for me at the door (when I got home) - he knew where I was at - and he asked me hundreds of questions and finally I just gave him the book," Jared said.

"Carter read (the book) from front to back and had all these questions for us," Katie said. "Honestly in my mind was, 'Does he really get it?'"

Each year in the U.S., 350,000 people suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital. Carol Bragdon, APRN, with Topeka's Cotton O'Neil Heart Center, says CPR gives them a chance to survive.

"The goal of CPR is to continue to circulate blood through the body to vital organs, provide oxygen that's present in the blood while someone is unable to have that function on its own," Bragdon explained.

While many people think it takes a formal class to take action, Bragdon said you don't need extensive training. The latest research has shown even compressions only can make a difference.

"Mid-sternum, or the mid-chest bone, breast bone; heel of the hand; press hard and fast about 120 times a minute. You can sing 'Staying Alive' and that rhythm will help keep you on track," she said. "Something is better than nothing."

Carter tried a few compressions, then gathered up Max and ran to a neighbor for help. Sadly, Gerald Ingalls, who was 65 years old, did not survive.

"He had a heart attack and, because he was eating (when it happened), it also cut off his air supply," Katie said.

But rather than stay sad, Carter became motivated. This past May, he was the top fundraiser at Chase County Elementary's Kids Heart Challenge, bringing in $1,075. It's money the American heart Association can use to teach more kids what to do in an emergency, and maybe find new medicines too.

"I knew that heart research was important, but after that I just knew it was more important because I had gone through.....I hope that a lot of people never have to go through," Carter said.

His parents continue to be impressed by how Carter took action.

"I'm very proud of the way he handled himself, took care of his brother the whole time too. He did amazing," Jared said.

"I don't know that I would even know what to do so I was kind of in awe," Katie said. "Never doubt what kids can do, and what they know."

For Carter, sharing his story is the best way to honor his Papa.

"He always wanted to help people," Carter said.

If you're interested in learning CPR, call 1-800-RED-CROSS to find a class.