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Not Trained in CPR? You Can Still Help Save Lives

Bystander CPR can double or even triple the odds of survival for a cardiac arrest victim. Credit: jdurham/Morguefile
Bystander CPR can double or even triple the odds of survival for a cardiac arrest victim. Credit: jdurham/Morguefile
October 19, 2015

RALEIGH, N.C. – Help from a bystander often is the difference between whether a person suffering from cardiac arrest will live or die.

Kelli Sears, a CPR instructor with the American Heart Association, says while there are some minor changes in the organization's guidelines, the biggest emphasis for the public remains to take action even if you're not formally trained in CPR.

"If you've taken a CPR class and have been taught how to give breaths, then the breaths are still recommended,” she advises. “And if you don't know CPR and you haven't taken a class, then we just recommend hands only CPR or compression only CPR. Push hard and push fast and do something."

Sears says the chest compressions should be done at a rate of 100 to 120 per minute, with the beat of the Bee Gees' disco song "Stayin' Alive" a perfect match for the timing.

A quick demonstration of hands only CPR can be found online at the American Heart Association website.

Sears notes that bystanders getting involved – by calling 911, performing CPR and using an automated external defibrillator if available – is especially critical in rural areas where it can take some time for emergency crews to respond.

"Having people who can initiate CPR before an ambulance can arrive or before first responders can arrive is vital in giving a patient any chance of survival in a cardiac arrest situation," she stresses.

Sears says bystander CPR can double or even triple the odds of survival for those with cardiac arrest, but less than half receive such help.



Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NC