BEAUFORT COUNTY, S.C. (WTGS) — The former Mayor of Beaufort made good on a promise to learn CPR following a boating accident that almost killed him last year.
Billy Keyserling said that around this time last year, a strong gust split the sail of his boat, pulling him beneath the waters of the Beaufort River.
He said he was lucky two bystanders, who happened to be nurses, were able to keep him alive until first responders arrived.
"It was pretty rough CPR. They broke ten ribs, but it was necessary, but they got me breathing again," Keyserling said.
RELATED: Former Beaufort mayor meets with medical personnel that saved his life
He added that through that experience, he truly realized how unprepared he was for a life-threatening scenario and pledged to do something about it.
"As I stayed in bed a couple of days afterward recuperating, I was thinking, what if I had been one of those people who came upon someone who is in trouble like I was," Keyserling said. "What would I have done?"
The city of Beaufort/Port Royal Fire Department responded that day, providing more life-preserving care as they rushed him to the hospital.
Chief Deputy Matt Bowsher said his story demonstrates the need for more everyday people to undergo this training.
"That shows exactly the importance of bystanders and the community to know CPR. That was truly a difference for him and the outcome and being able to walk out of the hospital," Bowsher said.
Participants of all ages watched a series of instructional videos, completed some hands-on exercises, and took a test to receive a certification from the American Safety and Health Institute.
Keyserling said the experience gave him a new outlook on life, and he hopes courses like these could help save lives heading into the summer season.
RELATED: Experts share boating safety advice ahead of Memorial Day Weekend
"I like to think that I live to the fullest every day, and I'm most grateful to those who were prepared to help me and therefore feel that obligation, the opportunity to be there like they were, to help other people," Keyserling said.
The City of Beaufort/Town of Port Royal Fire Department and several other fire departments in Beaufort County offer monthly public and private CPR classes. If you would like to register for a CPR class, call 843-525-7055.