Posted on June 5, 2023

Stayin’ Alive: Pastor Uses CPR to Save Teen’s Life

Rafe Oard, 17, of Gladwin, Michigan, is an active teenager with a great sense of humor. You’re likely to find him outdoors, working on cars with his grandpa, or caring for his pheasants and quails.

Last February, Rafe headed to the weekly open gymnasium hour at his church. He often joined members of the community playing sports and activities led by youth leaders at Emmanuel Baptist Church. But just few minutes into a relay race, Rafe collapsed.

Bystanders called 911. That’s when the church pastor, Joe Dorais, started CPR.


A Life-Saving Soundtrack

“We had CPR training at the church several years ago,” said Pastor Joe. “I just remember being told to go at the beat of ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the Bee Gees.”

Joe continued compressions for 8 minutes while paramedics guided him through CPR over the phone. “I had bruising on my hands, but I wasn’t going to stop until the paramedics arrived,” he said.

When the paramedics arrived, Rafe had no pulse. He had suffered a heart attack. They rushed him to the ER in Gladwin. He later transferred to Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital to receive life-saving care.

Rafe remained unconscious and was placed on an extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) machine for five days. ECMO provides time for the body to heal while doing the work of the heart and lungs.


Recovering at Mary Free Bed after a Heart Attack

Rafe transferred to Mary Free Bed Kids Pediatric Inpatient Rehabilitation program for pediatric cardiac rehabilitation with a multi-disciplinary team. He participated in physical therapy and occupational therapy to improve his strength and mobility.

“Patients who participate in cardiac rehabilitation tend to be stronger and healthier and get back on the path to an independent and enjoyable life,” said Marianne Mousigian, MD, Pediatric Rehabilitation Physician at Mary Free Bed.


CPR Saves Lives

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure that uses chest compressions to mimic how the heart pumps. The compressions help keep blood flowing throughout the body while the heart is unable.

Pastor Joe’s actions inspired the church to do more CPR training for staff. Rafe is now back home in Gladwin where he continues to improve and get stronger every day.


“It’s not just a class, it’s lifesaving,” said Pastor Joe. “It’s a life skill and everyone should learn it.”


June 1 – 7 is National CPR & AED Awareness Week.

It’s our opportunity to spotlight how lives can be saved if more people know CPR and how to use an AED.


“Patients who have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest have very poor prognosis, with survival rates being around 5%,” said Dr. Elizabeth Rosner, Medical Director, Pediatric Critical Care Unit, Corewell Health Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “CPR saves patients lives. The more trained community members there are in quality CPR, the more potential lives that can be saved”


Your actions can help save a life.

Take 60 seconds and watch the Hands-Only CPR Instructional Video from the American Heart Association.