October 2, 2014 --
Nearly 383,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually, with 88 percent occur at home, according to the American Heart Association.
Less than eight percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive, the association states on its website, www.heart.org/HEARTORG/CPRAndECC/WhatisCPR/CPRFactsandStats/CPR-Statistics_UCM_307542_Article.jsp.
The use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation dates back to 1740, yet even today, most Americans don’t know how to perform it. Given properly and immediately to sudden cardiac arrest victims, CPR can save lives, according to the website.
To help increase the odds of survival after a sudden cardiac arrest, Marine Corps Logistics Base Albany firefighters Roger Hall and Sean Edmondson, both with Marine Corps Fire Department, Public Safety Division, conducted a CPR training class in Building 5500, recently. The certification is good for two years.
During the four-hour class, students learned how to conduct adult CPR on a dummy by watching several videos and demonstrations from the instructors. They also learned how to properly operate an automated external defibrillator.
The American Heart Association website defines an AED as a lightweight, portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart. The shock can stop an irregular rhythm and allow a normal rhythm to resume in a heart in sudden cardiac arrest.
Sudden cardiac arrest is an abrupt loss of heart function.
According to Hall, the AED is a built-in computer that checks a victim’s heart rhythm and calculates whether defibrillation is needed. Students are taught to follow the computer’s verbal instructions.
If a shock is needed, a user presses the shock button after it is highlighted, which will stop the heart. After the computer reads a victim’s pulse and CPR is needed, it will tell a user to conduct CPR.
Hall said, “Always follow the computer’s instructions.”
Edmondson shared his personal experience using and witnessing CPR being used.
“I’ve been in emergency medical services for 32 years and out of the hundreds of cardiac arrests I have worked, the ones I’ve seen that were successful were performed by EMS personnel, a bystander or a family member right away,” he said. “You usually see the difference when immediate CPR is performed. That’s normally when you see a life saved.”
According to the American Heart Association, effective bystander CPR provided immediately after a sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.
Hall said CPR does work if started right away.
“Those who receive CPR right away, within the first couple of minutes, have the best outcome,” Hall said. “A fellow employee who knows CPR can make a difference in someone’s life.”
Both instructors stated they tried to present the class in a way students could learn in a comfortable environment and build their confidence in performing CPR to save someone’s life.
“I want the students, if they have to one day perform CPR, to stand in front of a mirror and know (they) did the best (they) could to save (a) loved one’s life,” Hall said. “Not knowing CPR, and the fact that you could have done something different, will tear you up.”
Both instructors noted there is no written test, but the students must pass a practical application by performing CPR on a dummy.
Lisa Simpson, program analyst, Civilian Training and Financial Branch, Operations and Training Division, MCLB Albany, attended the CPR class to be recertified.
“I took this class to refresh my CPR/AED skills so that I could be prepared if ever needed,” Simpson said. “It is much better to know CPR and never use it than to not know it when needed.
“A refresher training is very helpful as methods frequently change and since, for the most part, we do not get to ‘use’ the skills - thank goodness - we may forget the details,” she said.
To schedule a class, call the main fire station phone at 229-639-6592.