PITT COUNTY, N.C. (WITN) -The sound of first responders pressing down on mannequins’ chests and breathing into their mouths to give oxygen could be seen Tuesday night at the Stokes Volunteer Fire Department.

The first responders were in attendance for a CPR training course, which is offered through Pitt Community College. Johnny Williams is the instructor, and he’s taught CPR for years.

About 10 years ago, Williams says his father-in-law died right in front of him from heart complications. He says he’s been an advocate for CPR training ever since.

“I didn’t think of it quite as important until it did hit home,” Williams said. “When it hit home, it was like okay what a minute. This is something that truly needs to be taught so that people can understand what they need to do and how to do it.”

During the course, first responders were shown the proper steps to use when performing CPR. They practiced the skills on the mannequins, which some of them had never done.

Stokes Assistant Fire Chief Charles Harris says he believes it’s important for everyone to learn CPR because emergency response crews may not arrive immediately.

“Some of these rescue trucks take a few minutes to there,” Harris said. “If anybody can learn CPR, it has a big chance of saving somebody’s life.

A little over a month ago, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest during Monday Night Football and Williams says the sudden collapse caught his attention because it can happen to anyone.

“We also can have it within our own ranks,” Williams said. “Just like it happened in the NFL, it happens in fire service. We have firefighters that unfortunately have heart issues at the scene, and we have to respond.”

Although the first responders may never have to actually use the CPR training, Harris says he feels it’s an important certification to have.

“I take the training and keep the training up so I know all the new tactical stuff they do now,” Harris said. “I do it because I’m a big part this community.”

Williams says anyone can become CPR certified if they reach out to their local community college or the American Heart Association.

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