Ambulance association distributing free CPR kits
Call 911 for an ambulance and chances are you’ll have a response in minutes if you are within the 23-square-mile area serviced by the Ephrata Community Ambulance Association. However, if your call is for an adult heart attack victim who is unresponsive, you can significantly increase that person’s chance of survival by pressing down hard on the victim’s chest 100 times a minute until the ambulance crew arrives to take over.
Chest compressions, and only chest compressions, are now considered the best way to deal with an adult in cardiac arrest, according to John Martin and Kevin Wolf, president and EMS manager, respectively, of the ECAA. The association’s coverage area includes Ephrata and Akron boroughs, and parts of Ephrata, Clay, West Cocalico, West Earl, and Earl townships.
Martin said that for every minute without CPR, a victim’s chances of survival decrease by 10 percent. Wolf said many people are afraid to do CPR because they’re worried they’ll do it wrong. Textbook technique, though, isn’t as important as just doing it. “Any CPR is better than no CPR,” he said.
Martin and Wolf were at the ECAA station last Wednesday to announce the receipt of a generous shipment of CPR Family and Friends Anytime kits. The kits were donated to the association by the American Heart Association and are available free to anyone in the ECAA’s coverage area.
Each kit includes an instruction DVD and an inflatable Mini Anne that can be used for practice. If Mini Anne is on a hard surface, she produces an audible click when enough pressure is exerted on her sternum to keep blood moving through her pretend heart. If she’s on a soft surface, a bed or a carpeted floor, for example, she won’t click. In a real life situation, a victim on a bed should be placed on the floor, whether carpeted or not, in order to administer chest compressions.
The blood in a victim’s body is already oxygenated to some extent, and chest compressions keep the blood moving to the brain and other vital organs. In an adult whose heart has stopped beating, there is enough oxygen in the blood to sustain life for about seven minutes, according to Joe Laskowski, the community CPR manager for the American Heart Association region that includes Pennsylvania.
Laskowski said CPR kits are part of an AHA program aimed at increasing the national cardiac survival rate from the present five or six percent to 20 percent. Concerted, top-down efforts involving local government, police and fire departments, volunteer organizations and ordinary citizens have achieved some remarkable results. The survival rate from cardiac arrest victims in Seattle, for example, is 42 percent. Which bears repeating – 42 percent. Both Memphis and Austin exceed 30 percent because ordinary citizens, through hands-on training and aggressive promotion, know what to do.
Hands-only CPR is appropriate for adult cardiac arrest victims, Laskowski said, but rescue breathing is still the preferred method in a number of cases. Infants, and children under the age of 12, because their blood volume can’t contain enough oxygen to maintain brain function, need two rescue breaths followed by 30 chest compressions. An adult choking victim, after an obstruction has been removed, should be given two rescue breaths followed by 30 chest compressions. Victims of drowning or electrocution should also be given rescue breaths followed by compressions.
Instructions for these procedures, and a segment on the use of an automatic electronic defibrillator, are included on the DVD.
The DVD and Mini Anne contained in the CPR kit clearly explain the procedures that can save lives and Mini Anne is a very effective practice aid. Wolf said the kits can be picked up at the ECAA station at 528 W. Main St., Ephrata, and will be given out until the supply is gone. The kits are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m.
The kit’s DVD also includes instructions on child CPR, child and adult choking and the use of an AED – automatic electronic defibrillator. Rescue breathing is included in the DVD instructions for child CPR and for adult choking victims.
Dick Wanner can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 717-419-4703.