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Can You Save A Life – Part 1 

Wayne Harvey

If you were in a situation where someone collapsed and wasn’t breathing, would you know what to do?Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation dates back to the mid 1700’s, but according to many experts, most Americans don’t know how to perform CPR.The American Heart Association says they train more than 12 million people each year in CPR. If you add those trained by the Red Cross, it’s surprising to find out less than a third of cardiac arrest victims receive CPR before help arrives or they get to a hospital.For EMS professionals arriving on the scene where nothing is being done, it’s one of the most frustrating parts of their job, says Jeff Brown of the Bangor Fire Department. “Many calls that are cardiac related for which we respond, we’re there too late. Somebody recognizes the victim is down, finds them too late or more importantly they don’t even begin CPR because A, they don’t know how, B, they’re not comfortable doing such and that patient is really, really behind when we arrive.”The American Heart Association says CPR and defibrillation in the first 3 to 5 minutes of a victim’s collapse can result in a greater than 50 percent long term survival rate.”The absolute number one most important thing someone can do if they experience a person who is unconscious, perhaps not breathing, but especially unconscious is to call 911, to call EMS to make sure we’re on our way,” says Brown. “Soon as that person gets back or hangs up their cell phone, the most important thing that person can do is begin CPR on that patient”Pat Walsh works for the Red Cross in Bangor and trains many people in CPR. Mouth to mouth is no longer required as long as chest compressions are started as soon as possible. “They have found through research that victims of sudden cardiac arrest, there is high concentrations, in many cases, of oxygen in the blood of someone who has just had cardiac arrest, so they are putting more emphasis on compressions to circulate the blood that they know there is oxygen in.”If that happens, it gives those like Jeff Brown a better chance when they arrive on the scene. “Number one, the heart, number two, the brain and number three, the kidneys and so what we are trying to do is for somebody to begin circulating that blood supply so when we get there, that person does have a viable heart to actually resuscitate”If you are around when someone collapses in a public place, there’s now a better chance of survival because many businesses have AED’s, Automatic External Defibrillators, to help CPR by providing prompts on when to shock the victims heart. While that may sound scary and more than the average person can handle, that’s not really the case.”Automatic External Defibrillators are extremely easy to use,” says Brown. “Anybody can use Automatic Difibrilators, but the most important thing is early good CPR first and then if that Automatic Difibrilator is available, they are very simple, turn it on, follow the prompts. If it advises shock, push the shock button as long as nobody’s touching that victim and begin CPR right after it does that shock, and most Automatic Defibrilators will tell you to do that.” “It’s better than nobody doing anything, absolutely, and with the increased number of Automated External Difibrilators in the hands of lay responders in businesses and the Bangor Mall,” said Walsh. “Certainly somebody’s survival rate is going to go up dramatically if somebody can get an AED and get the electrodes on that victim and take action with that.””Chest compressions in addition to an automatic external defibrillator or a cardiac defibrillator are paramount for the survival of a person who is in cardiac arrest,” added Brown.