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New CPR Guidelines: Step In to Save Lives

While formal training builds skills and confidence, the new CPR guidelines stress that a cellphone and a willingness to step in can save lives. Credit: Rama/Wikimedia Commons
While formal training builds skills and confidence, the new CPR guidelines stress that a cellphone and a willingness to step in can save lives. Credit: Rama/Wikimedia Commons
November 2, 2015

ST. LOUIS - When someone is having a stroke or heart attack, you don't need formal training to save a life, according to the newly-released Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) guidelines from the American Heart Association.

Douglas Randell, an officer with the EMS training programs for the St. Louis Fire Department, says people need to get over their fear of doing something wrong when they see someone in cardiac distress.

"I'll just say to them, 'If the person is dead, then can you make them any deader,'" Randell explains. "By doing nothing, you are guaranteeing the outcome of this person. If you do something, then there could be a change in their outcome."

According to the new guidelines, bystanders not trained in CPR should immediately call 9-1-1, put the phone on speaker, and then provide "hands-only CPR," pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest, 100 to 120 times per minute. Randell says having a cellphone can be a literal lifesaver, as dispatchers are specifically trained to provide instructions for performing CPR.

More than 326,000 people nationwide experience cardiac arrest outside of a hospital each year, and about 90 percent of them die, according to the American Heart Association. Randell says it doesn't have to be that way.

"Become trained in CPR, do something when the time arrives, and don't be afraid," he says. "The more people that participate in this, the more lives can and will be saved."

Another 200,000 cardiac arrests occur inside hospitals annually, and the new guidelines call for hospital personnel to be more frequently retrained so their life-saving skills remain sharp.

Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO