Imagine the scene unfolding at a local business, church or public venue. A person collapses without warning and appears lifeless and to not be breathing. Bystanders are there but no one knows knows what do to. Precious time passes and in the end a life is lost. Could something be done to give this an improved chance at a better outcome?
June 1-7 is National CPR and AED Awareness Week. National agencies such as the Red Cross and Heart Association stress that every second counts in cardiac arrest and people can save lives by knowing how to perform CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Sudden cardiac death occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating or beats too inefficiently to circulate blood to the brain and body. More than 350,000 people suffer cardiac arrest annually in the United States, but sadly only 11 percent survive. For every minute without immediate CPR and use of an AED, survival chances drop 10 percent.
This problem occurs monthly in our rural county according to Jeff Hinshaw, chief of the Yadkin County Rescue Squad. In our rural area, our population is at higher risk for high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and blood sugar issues that all increase the risk of sudden cardiac death. Even though our county has a highly trained EMS agency with paramedics, our system relies heavily on volunteers from fire departments and the rescue squad to get to these scenes before the ambulance arrives. Time is truly of the essence, as a person in cardiac arrest needs high quality chest compressions and early defibrillation.
Having folks in the home, business, or church who have knowledge of CPR and AED utilization will help give the patient a better chance. Hinshaw cited a proactive example in Maplewood Baptist Church. After seeing the need for equipment and training, the church purchased an AED and held CPR education sessions for members. The Yadkin County Rescue Squad offers such training that Maplewood completed. Through financial contributions from local citizens, along with donations from Yadkin County Farm Bureau and the Yadkinville Lions Club, the rescue squad was able to secure high quality training aids to provide citizens with the opportunity to learn CPR and how to use an AED. Those interested in such training are encouraged to reach to the rescue squad at 336-679-2430.
If you see someone collapse without warning, Hinshaw reiterates the action steps from the Red Cross and Heart Association: Call 911, start CPR (even if just hands only), and locate and use an AED.