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Wanted: A Million People to Learn CPR

June 1, 2009

Minneapolis, MN – The American Heart Association wants a million people to learn how to save a life this week. The Association has designated this "National CPR Week," and Minnesota spokesman David Adriansen, who is training coordinator at the Minneapolis VA center, says we need more people trained in the life-saving technique - the sooner the better.

"About 75 percent of sudden cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital, with most happening at home; but only about eight percent of out-of-hospital sudden-cardiac-arrest victims survive."

He says survival chances decrease ten percent for every minute a victim goes without treatment.

Adriansen adds that CPR, which involves compressions to the chest to keep the heart going until professional medical care arrives, is easy to learn. He says anyone interested can locate a local training center, or order a home CPR instruction kit online at

Adriansen says you can learn CPR in 20 minutes. If you see that someone has fallen, first shake the shoulder and rub the chest. If there's no response, they’re unconscious. Call 911, then take action.

"Get on the center of the chest. Put one hand on the sternum, or the breast bone. Put your other hand on top. Straighten up your arms and get ready to press down, one compression every second until the ambulance gets there."

He says you push down about two inches, or about a third of the depth of the chest. Dr. Adriansen notes it may take an ambulance some time to arrive, but a victim needs help within five minutes, which is why it's important to train as many people as possible.

The Heart Association is also encouraging volunteers to get familiar with "Automated External Defibrillator" devices, which can restore a failed heart rhythm and are often located on walls at airports and casinos and other public places.

Jim Wishner, Public News Service - MN