In between classes (and sometimes even before a big biology exam) you can find Jaldhi Patel, a senior at Temple University, volunteering to help train people in Hands-Only CPR and AED use. She also makes time for gardening through Urban Creators, mentoring kids at Saturday Academy, and serving food at a local soup kitchen — but there was a time when all that didn’t seem possible.
Breaking Out of Her Shell
When Jaldhi moved to the United States from India at 13 years old, she felt self-conscious about her accent (English was her fourth language) and cultural differences, so she avoided interacting with people.
“I used to be so social in India, but when I got to high school in the States, all that changed.”
That is, until she started watching The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
“The only reason I started to become outgoing again is because I found Ellen. I realized I didn’t have to be scared to be different.”
Now, being a people-person is a core part of her identity.
“I’ve always wanted to be a doctor, and while that is still my ultimate goal, I am starting to think about ways to incorporate my passion for people and volunteering in both clinical and non-clinical ways.”
Through her volunteer work with Penn Medicine’s Mobile CPR Project, Jaldhi is part of a grassroots effort to increase the number of people in the Philadelphia region who are prepared to respond in a sudden cardiac arrest emergency. The Mobile CPR Project eliminates common barriers to CPR and AED training — like time, cost, and accessibility — by traveling across the five-county region in a van equipped to provide free trainings.
“Honestly, before I started volunteering with the Mobile CPR Project, I didn’t even know what an AED was,” Jaldhi recalls. “I also didn’t realize that sudden cardiac arrest was the leading cause of death, not only in the United States but throughout the world. It can happen to anyone, any time, and people need to know how to react in that situation to get the best outcome — survival.”
A Worthwhile Commitment
Every year, more than 325,000 people in the United States die from sudden cardiac arrest, which occurs when the heart unexpectedly stops beating. AEDs, or automated external defibrillators, are easy-to-use portable devices that shock a person’s heart back into rhythm in this type of emergency. AEDs also instruct users to perform Hands-Only CPR to keep blood flowing to vital organs while they wait for first responders to arrive.
As Jaldhi points out, “even if we reach just one person who ends up in a situation where these skills can save someone’s life — it’s worth all the hours we spend out there talking to people, encouraging them to learn how to recognize cardiac arrest and how to respond when every second counts.”
The Mobile CPR Project is a part of CPR Ready, a local initiative to improve survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest by increasing access to Hands-Only CPR and AED training. CPR Ready is made up of a variety of stakeholders including: the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, Chester County EMS, the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, the CPR/AED Public Awareness and Training Network, The Foundation for Delaware County, The Health Care Improvement Foundation, Independence Blue Cross, the Independence Blue Cross Foundation, Penn Medicine, Philadelphia Fire Department, and the School District of Philadelphia.