Felicia Jackson knew how to do CPR. As a physical therapist, she had to be trained on a regular basis, but 16 years ago, all of her training went away the moment her son, Markel, needed her.
The Jackson family was on its way to an outing when Markel, then 2, choked on a piece of candy his 8-year-old sister, Briana, had given him. Felicia Jackson looked back and saw that he was slumped in his car seat and his lips were turning blue. The color was leaving his skin, and his eyes were rolling back in his head.
Husband Richard pulled over and handed Markel to his wife, but in that moment, “I froze,” Jackson says. “All my training went out the window.”
Richard got the candy out of Markel’s mouth, and Markel began breathing again and the color returned. He checked out OK at the hospital.
But that moment of not acting by doing the Heimlich maneuver and CPR “left me feeling out of sorts,” Jackson says. “I was upset with myself.” She thought that if this could happen to her, it could happen to anyone.
And then years later, she an idea come to her in a dream. It was a full image of a person standing over another person and performing CPR, but on the person receiving CPR was a piece of plastic with instructions on how to do CPR.
She immediately drew a picture of what that piece of plastic looked like.
That dream and her experience with Markel turned into the CPR Wrap, a piece of medical-grade plastic that contains all the instructions for CPR. The person performing CPR would put it on the chest of the person receiving CPR, and the wrap shows that CPR performer where to put their hands, how far to push down, how many times to push down. The wrap has a mouthpiece that lines up on the CPR receiver’s mouth and protects the CPR performer from contracting a disease from the receiver. The wrap tells you how many times to breathe and when. The wrap also tells you to call 911 and send someone to look for an automated electronic defibrillator.
Jackson, 47, sat on her idea for a few years, but then, at the end of 2016, she began taking classes on how to turn her dream into reality. In those nine weeks, she went from an image on a piece of paper to a prototype.
Doors began to open. She met an investor. She was invited to Bentonville, Ark., to meet with folks at Walmart. She found a manufacturer who could handle that type of plastic, printing on that plastic and cutting it in the shape she wanted.
Two years ago, she quit working as a physical therapist and made CPR Wrap her full-time job. She’s auditioned for “Shark Tank.” She’s done tests in Ace Hardware stores and sold out. She’s talking to Target, and her relationship with Walmart has grown. She’s sold them to companies that train people on CPR. She’s getting noticed internationally, including in Australia, Yemen, South Africa and Great Britain.
In two years, she’s sold about 4,000 CPR Wraps, she says.
Her wrap is now available on her website cprwrap.com and on walmart.com. It’s available for $14.99 in three sizes: infant, for babies up to 1 year old; child, for 1-year-olds to 8-year-olds; and adult, for anyone older than 8. The instructions on each reflect the proper way to do CPR for that size person, and the wrap fits a person that age. The mouth shield is also different based on how you deliver breaths to a baby versus an adult. She envisions people putting the wraps in their car, in their first-aid kits, in their purses as well as in automated electronic defibrillator cases. She’d like them to be stocked in all public places, including in schools and churches as well as on airplanes.
This January, Jackson and her CPR Wrap were accepted into Techstars startup accelerator and invited to move to Austin, Texas, from Chattanooga, Tenn. She happily accepted and has begun to move her family. Techstars is helping her market the product and grow it.
She has more products in the works. With the birth of her first grandchild, Zion, she created a blanket that has everything you need to bring with you, including a teether, a removable burp cloth, a pocket for wipes and other things and a pacifier.
She also is working on a version of the CPR Wrap for pets, as well as translating it into Spanish. She has interest from places in Spain and Peru.
“In five years,” she says, “I’d like it to be a mandated product in every public sector.”