Large Crowd Turns Out for Lesson in CPR
By Christopher Bony
More than 800 people gathered at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center for two hours on Saturday, June 27, and pressed the chests of inflatable dummies to the beat of the Bee Gees’ 1977 hit “Stayin’ Alive.”
Leon County government and community partners encouraged citizens during the preceding weeks to register for “Press the Chest,” a free community-wide CPR training event.
Leon County Emergency Medical Services (EMS) hosted this event in collaboration with the Leon County Health Department, FAMU Student Health Services, Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare, Capital Regional Medical Center and the Tallahassee Democrat. The annual event focuses on the importance of training and confidence in the knowledge of how to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).
“We’re trying to get citizens in the community to know about CPR,” said Mary Ann Lindley, the chair of the Leon County commission. “We want them to know the techniques that they need to overcome that fear and anxiety they would get if they see someone going into cardiac arrest.”
Participants were taught the importance of high-quality CPR, doing CPR correctly and how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). Highly credentialed Leon County EMS personnel were on hand for this year’s event to teach new recommendations for the emergency-rescue procedure.
Procedures were updated by the American Heart Association in 2010 from the previous recommendation of A-B-C (Airway-Breathing-Compressions) method to C-A-B (Compressions-Airway-Breathing).
“We wanted to get the word out to everyone that doing compressions and then calling 9-1-1 is just as effective without the mouth-to-mouth,” said Michelle Lingar with the Leon County EMS. “So many people are skeptical of putting their mouth on a stranger and some studies have shown that just doing compressions gets blood flowing and still gets oxygen to the brain.”
Each year, sudden cardiac arrest claims the lives of nearly 400,000 people throughout the country. Leon County EMS data show that CPR is performed only 20 percent of the time by bystanders in the community prior to EMS arrival.
Local citizen Joanne Dyer brought her grandson and his friend and said she once had to perform CPR on a child of her own who had spinal meningitis.
“Somehow her food went down wrong and I had to do it the old way and put her over my knee and then got her rushed to the hospital,” said Dyer. “I’m thankful I never had to do that again.”
Dyer’s grandson Nathaniel said he learned a lot about responding to a cardiac emergency and what to do if someone stopped breathing.
Each participant of “Press the Chest 2015” received an American Heart Association CPR Anytime kit, which contained a CPR manikin, DVD and educational materials and supplies. These kits are for the participants to keep and to encourage them to train family and friends.