Healthy You - Every Day

You and CPR Can Be a Lifesaving Combination

Be prepared to make a difference at a moment’s notice during National CPR and AED Awareness Week (June 1-7) and all year long

Acronyms such as CPR and AED are familiar to most people when the discussion turns to cardiac arrest, but how much the average person really knows – or doesn’t know – about  cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillators (AED) may surprise you.

Knowing CPR, especially hands-only CPR, and how an AED works could very well save the life of someone you love.

“If you’re not comfortable doing the breathing, just do hands-only CPR. That increases a person’s chance of survival.” Christopher Greb, Macungie Ambulance Corps.

The American Heart Association says 70% of Americans might feel helpless to act either because they don’t know CPR or because it’s been a very long time since they were trained. A 2019 survey commissioned by Cintas Corporation showed nearly two-thirds of Americans weren’t confident they could operate an AED.

This year, the American Heart Association (AHA) is calling on everyone to learn how to give hands-only CPR. Lehigh Valley Health Network’s video on the topic is a great way to learn.

Among the helpful information from the AHA is a video on AED use.

Learning CPR can significantly increase someone’s chances of surviving cardiac arrest. The AHA says bystander CPR can double or triple someone’s chances.

Cardiac arrest stats and facts

Home may be where the heart is, but it’s also where most cardiac arrest happens, says the AHA.

  • Nearly 9 in 10 heart emergencies happen at home.
  • Many victims are healthy with no known heart disease or other cardiac risk factors.
  • Sudden cardiac arrest and a heart attack are not one in the same, though a heart attack can cause cardiac arrest. Sudden cardiac arrest is usually the result of an arrhythmia, an irregular heartbeat, that causes the heart to suddenly stop beating.

Real world saves

Christopher Greb, executive director at Macungie Ambulance Corps, says CPR and AED success stories happen, but not often enough. Greb teaches CPR and says he always tells his students to do their best in a situation that calls for CPR. “I tell them CPR is kind of like pizza,” he says. “Any CPR is better than no CPR, and any pizza is better than no pizza.”

He says the key is to recognize cardiac arrest, call 911 and start aiding the victim. Greb says there are some cases where rescue breathing along with chest compressions is optimal but notes any effort can be beneficial. “If you’re not comfortable doing the breathing, just do hands-only CPR. That increases a person’s chance of survival.”

Did you know?

Nearly 383,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually in the U.S.

Greb points to several relatively recent incidents involving Macungie Ambulance that show the value of CPR and AED use.

  • A 66-year-old man suffered a massive heart attack and cardiac arrest at an area golf course and was aided by course employees who administered CPR and used an AED before the ambulance arrived. He survived.
  • A female golfer suffered cardiac arrest at the same golf course in 2018. She received CPR from a bystander and survived.
  • A 2-year-old boy suffered cardiac arrest at a local preschool and was given CPR by a teacher. Macungie Ambulance arrived and used a defibrillator. The child was hospitalized and received a pacemaker and is thriving.

Greb’s advice? “Take some time to get out there and learn more about it [CPR] so you know how to do it.”

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