There are many ways to learn how to perform CPR — from American Red Cross trainings to online or school courses. For fans of "The Office," however, there is only one way: a three-minute scene in a 2009 episode, called "Stress Relief," of the beloved NBC sitcom.
The sequence follows the Dunder Mifflin Scranton crew attempting to learn CPR from a professional in the wake of Stanley, played by Leslie David Baker, collapsing from a heart condition at work. It doesn't do much for teaching the correct hand position to perform CPR, but it does imprint that the beat of the BeeGees' "Stayin' Alive" matches the number of compressions to administer per minute.
Ed Helms' Andy leading his co-workers in an a cappella rendition of the '70s hit, as Mindy Kaling's Kelly bops to the beat, takes the episode off the rails in an unforgettable way. But Rainn Wilson as Dwight still manages to top that chaotic energy when he cuts open the CPR dummy's chest and removes its face.
"It got to take me back to old disco music, so I enjoyed that," Baker recalls to TODAY.com about filming the famous first aid fail. "(It was) another fun conference room scene. The physicality of it, we got to literally stretch our acting muscles."
"And we got to educate people on CPR because 'Stayin' Alive,' the chest compressions actually measure out music wise, and that helps people remember it," he adds.
Phyllis Smith, who plays Phyllis Lapin on "The Office" and is close friends with Baker in real life, says the scene was a refresher course for her in administering CPR because she'd taken one a few years prior. But she got to laugh "this go around with Dwight acting like a maniac at some points," she tells TODAY.com.
Baker and Smith are working together for Cheerios' heart health month campaign. "(Cheerios) aren't coated with a bunch of sugar and artificial stuff," Baker says of his partnership with the cereal brand. "They taste as good today as they did when I first started eating them many years ago."
During the CPR scene, belly laughs for the viewer are inevitable, but what about the cast? Baker confirms that it definitely took "several takes" to film.
"We were laughing, and Mindy was doing her 'Stayin' Alive' dance with both of her fists clenched. It was very cute," Baker recalls.
He says he believes the hilarity of the scene contributes to its ability to educate people about CPR over a decade later.
"It's almost like that scene (is) a pneumonic device that helps you remember what you need to do in terms of your timing and your chest compressions. So, very useful and very fun simultaneously," Baker says, adding that the "genius" of the show's creator, Greg Daniels, helps with the scene's staying power.
"He was one of the writers who was old enough to remember 'Stayin' Alive' because he was (a teenager) when it came out," Baker explains. "Some of the writers were too young to remember that particular song, but I would imagine that he helped nudge them in the right direction."
Asked what she hopes people take away from the scene, Smith echoes her good friend: "It's done in such a fun, crazy way (that) I think it just would make an impact. ... That (way) when an actual situation may arise, they would be able to perform it until the paramedics could get there to help the person in need," she says.
TODAY.com previously reported on a story where a 4-year-old girl collapsed but was saved by her father because he remembered "The Office" and "Stayin' Alive" and began performing CPR.
"There are some things that we were able to do on the show that have been able to ... educate, enlighten, entertain," Baker says. "People are coming up to us now, 9-year-olds and 90-year-olds, talking about the things that they were able to glean from the show, and this is an example of that."