CPR backer has hand in training Anoka County

By Paul Levy, Star Tribune, June 2, 2009

Can one woman single-handedly save Anoka County?

Rather than try, Peggy McNabb has recruited 1,200 helpers.

McNabb, an Anoka County Human Services administrator, is responsible for the distribution of 1,200 CPR kits to Anoka County employees and their families and associates, said Jerry Soma, manager of the county’s Human Services Division.

Last summer, Dr. Charles Lick, co-founder of Take Heart Minnesota and medical director of Allina Medical Transportation, spoke to county officials about the importance of CPR training programs for employees.

Learning about cardiopulmonary resuscitation wasn’t a hard sell.

“We were very impressed and decided immediately that we would spearhead a campaign to get people into CPR training,” Soma said.

“When I say ‘we,’ I’m really talking about Peggy McNabb.”

That was in July. By August, McNabb was handing out training kits to 36 people.

“It wasn’t just me,” McNabb said. “It was the employees who left that first meeting who wanted to train the staff.”

McNabb says she merely played bookkeeper while others learned about CPR and then passed on their knowledge and kits. But Soma says McNabb’s being modest. She sent out e-mail after e-mail, sometimes under Soma’s name, explaining that if someone trains three people, the $10 Allina CPR kit would be free.

So employees trained family members and others, and the kits kept coming.

The campaign is winding down now, McNabb says. Interest in CPR hasn’t waned. It’s just that there aren’t many county employees she hasn’t already contacted, Soma said.

“The kits have gone to churches, to book clubs, to neighborhoods,” McNabb said. “My part in this was small. It’s everyone else who did the work.”