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'Sidewalk CPR' push teaches skills to save lives

June 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
The push to get more people to learn 'sidewalk CPR' has health officials positive it will save lives.

Cardiac arrests can happen to anyone at any time. Nearly 300,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur every year. Less than a third get cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) from a bystander. And that's probably because many people don't know how to do it.

Nurses at White Memorial Medical Center are taking their knowledge to the street. The class is part of the American Heart Association's ongoing campaign to teach everyone "sidewalk CPR."

Emergency medicine expert Dr. Brian Johnston says a person's fate is usually dependent on a bystander.

"For every minute after one person goes down, you lose 10 percent survival," said Johnston.

Before getting into the basic position of leaning over the body, positioning hands on the center of the chest and locking elbows, you should: "Tell someone to call 911, and then immediately just press hard and press fast," said Leah Patterson, registered nurse, White Memorial Medical Center.

Getting your back into it helps you depress the rib cage 2 inches. You have to pump fast and hard: 100 beats per minute is the goal because studies show that's what it takes to keep adults' blood circulating.

The Bee Gees song "Staying Alive," is on for a reason. One-hundred pumps per minute works right with the beat.

"That rhythm is about the rhythm that you want to go, and you can sing it in your head," said Patterson.

The goal is to teach everyone enough CPR to feel confident enough to try.

Experts say you don't have to do the breathing part for CPR to be effective.

The free sidewalk CPR classes were part of a countywide effort to educate the public.


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