By LaShawn Hudson
Felicia Jackson says she’ll never forget the day her son almost died. Back in 2002, Jackson along with her husband and their three children, were driving to a family outing. Things quickly took a turn for the worse when one of their daughters shared a piece of hard candy with her younger brother. “I remember looking in the backseat of our car, and I saw Markel choking to death on the candy,” says Jackson. “I started freaking out. I started yelling and screaming, telling my husband to pull over.”
Jackson was certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) at the time.
She was majoring in physical therapy in college, and worked full-time as an emergency room clerk at a hospital in her hometown of Chattanooga.
“When my husband pulled over and passed me our son, I froze up,” explains Jackson, 47. “My mind went blank. All of my training and experience working in the medical field went out of the window.”
Luckily, Jackson’s husband quickly jumped into action and saved their [then] two-year-old son’s life by using the Heimlich maneuver.
Jackson says she had no idea that her son’s near-death experience would be the cornerstone of her future business. Determined to empower others who face similar life-threatening emergencies, in 2016 she debuted CPR Wrap, a medical-grade plastic overlay that you place on the chest and guides its users through CPR. Available in three different sizes: infant, child and adult, the disposable template has a mouthpiece and step-by-step CPR directions printed on its cover.
“I invented CPR Wrap because I wanted to make sure that no one has to relive what I went through with my son,” recalls Jackson the serial inventor. CPR Wraps are currently sold online at Walmart, Amazon and www.cprwrap.com. They are $14.99. Jackson is currently partnering with European and American automakers to have CRP Wraps to be packaged with first aid kits in new automobiles. Jackson also recently patented the animal version for CRP Wrap.
Jackson’s mentor and friend, Marco Perez, says CPR Wrap is an unprecedented product. “No one is going to read a CPR poster hanging on a wall in the midst of an emergency.” he explains. “People need CPR Wrap: It’s something they can hold in their hands while they perform CPR.”
Statistics show Jackson’s product is needed, particularly in communities of color. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about nine in 10 people who have cardiac arrest outside the hospital die, but CPR can help improve those odds. If it is performed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest. Additionally, the CDC reports, people in low-income, Black and Hispanic neighborhoods are less likely to receive CPR from bystanders than people in high-income, white neighborhoods.
Jackson says the idea for the product stemmed from the many years she replayed what happened to her son, invoking feelings of powerlessness and anger. It would take years and a lifesaving dream to shift her energy to solutions.
“I had a dream or vision,” Jackson says. “In the dream, someone was rendering CPR and the victim had a plastic-like mask laying on their chest. When I woke up from the dream, I traced it onto a piece of paper.”
It would take 14 years for Jackson’s dream to become a reality. Her career trajectory repositioned after she met a woman at a book club meeting in 2010 who was facilitator of LAUNCH Chattanooga, a nonprofit agency that helps minorities launch startups.
While on her quest to save lives, Jackson has bypassed several of life’s roadblocks.
“I put my family in jeopardy,” she admits. “I quit my job without telling my husband first. I drained my 410 (k). We lost our car and we almost lost our home.”
In spite of challenges, Jackson continued. CPR Wrap has landed her before judges on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” and before “Black Enterprise Magazine” judges for a pitch competition in Charlotte. She has done her own TED Talk. And in April of 2019, she graduated from the heavyweight startup accelerator Techstars Austin.
For more information about the CPR Wrap visit, www.cprwrap.com.