Karen Ledford Online 633d8c4f485de

This survivor is paying it forward

Oct. 4, 2022
Surviving a cardiac arrest encouraged Karen Ledford to teach CPR and establish From the Heart CPR. She wants to help heath-care providers become confident in their life-saving skills.

Each week the RDH PIRA (Patient Impact & Rise Above) recognition program, sponsored by Water Pik, Inc., features a dental hygiene clinician who excels in his or her role and goes the extra mile. The past two and a half years have been a challenge for many clinicians and as we return to the operatory, we want to acknowledge those who provide patient care—clinicians who are changing their patients’ lives, influencing their patients’ health, and making a difference every day. This week we honor Karen Ledford, BS, RDH.

"I survived a sudden cardiac arrest in my home in 2013, one of the less than 10% of people who survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. My husband found me unresponsive, called 911, and two of my neighbors, the fire department, and two paramedics did CPR on me and saved my life. I was unresponsive for at least 30 minutes. I was shocked five times at the scene with an AED (automated external defibrillator), and then spent 13 days in the hospital.

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"Following this life-changing event, I became a CPR instructor for the American Heart Association in 2015 and started From the Heart CPR, and I made it into a Pay It Forward project. After surviving a cardiac arrest, I directed my energy into creating an outreach for all kinds of groups, businesses, and individuals.

"My ministry is to teach as many people as possible CPR. I also use the money from class fees, donations, and fundraisers to purchase AED units for nonprofit organizations in my community. So far I have taught more than 1,500 people CPR and donated 13 AED units.

"I continued to teach classes during the pandemic while wearing a mask, social distancing, and repeatedly disinfecting the equipment. It was important to keep doing these classes, especially for those in health care and dental practices who needed to update their certifications and renew confidence in their skills. I love to hear participants say, 'That was the best CPR class I've ever taken!'" 

Karen has been a dental hygienist for more than 30 years. Helping people obtain confident smiles has been a vital part of her daily work. She has worked in general practices and in a hospital-based dental clinic. She's held various positions with the local component and state association NCDHA, such as secretary/treasurer, vice president, and president, and has been a delegate to ADHA for several years.

Karen served on the Young Dental advisory panel, and has written book reviews for the Journal of Dental Hygiene. Karen works for a general solo practice doing clinical hygiene three days a week, and teaches CPR on her days off and on weekends. She also teaches dental continuing education courses for the North Carolina area health education centers.

Visit the PIRA website to nominate someone today! Good luck, and we look forward to hearing from many outstanding and qualified colleagues!