You’re walking down an aisle in the grocery story, doing your weekly shopping, and the man shopping near you suddenly clutches his chest and falls to the ground.
You quickly take your phone out of your pocket and call 911.
The dispatcher tells you paramedics will be there in a matter of minutes.
Now comes perhaps the most integral part in saving this man’s life: performing CPR.
Lakes Region EMS Supervisor John Fox said it’s crucial to get CPR started as soon as possible.
“Most adults have 4 to 6 minutes of oxygen available in their blood when they go down,” he said. “Just moving that around (via CPR) allows the paramedics to come into play.”
Fox explained that for every minute CPR is not performed, a person’s chances of survival go down by 10 percent. If paramedics don’t arrive for about seven minutes, a person’s chances of recovering from cardiac arrest are less than 10 percent.
That’s why CPR is so critical, and Lakes Region EMS is making it a mission to train as many people in the community in new CPR techniques so as many lives can be saved as possible.
Fox said the American Heart Association changed the criteria for performing CPR in 2010, focusing more on chest compressions.
Fox said chest compressions are the most integral part to CPR, and in some cases mouth-to-mouth breathing was actually getting in the way for non-paramedics trying to resuscitate people.
He noted recent research by the AHA has shown a person performing CPR should try to get 100 compressions in per minute.
“I know it sounds kind of silly, but the Bee Gees song ‘Stayin’ Alive’ is at (a rhythm) of about 100 beats per minute,” he said. “You don’t have to sing it out loud when you’re performing CPR, but if you’ve got it in your head, that’s the pace you should be going at.”
Fox added if someone attending to a person in cardiac arrest can get to an automated external defibrillator—which are available in many public places like grocery stores and shopping malls—the chances of getting a heartbeat back increases even further.
“They’re so easy to use, they’re exceptionally safe and they won’t shock anybody who shouldn’t be shocked,” he said. “You bring it out, turn it on and it will talk you through what you need to do.”
Opportunities to learn
Fox said there are numerous opportunities to learn hands-only CPR in Chisago County and surrounding areas.
He’ll be at the noon North Branch Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon April 9 to teach, and he’s available to come to other functions. Contact Fox at 651-277-4911, ext. 102 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lakes Region EMS also offers free, half-hour CPR classes at its North Branch location, 39840 Grand Ave., the last Monday of every month.
Those interested in those classes need to contact Fox to register.