Act fast with CPR during heart attack
Most people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die. But if CPR is preformed in the first few minutes of cardiac arrest the survival rate can double or triple according to the American Heart Association.
“During an active heart attack, blood flow is restricted to the heart,” said Brian Hambek, Director of the local Ambulance Service. “CPR, or ‘Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation’, is a way of externally pushing blood in and out of the heart in hopes of keeping the heart and brain alive.”
“The average human body contains four to six minutes of reserve oxygen in the blood, which if circulated through the heart, should give a victim enough time until an ambulance gets there and starts more aggressive treatments,” Hambek explained.
Most people may have had some past exposure to CPR procedure instruction, but according to Hambek, training and techniques have been recently updated.
“The American Heart Association changed their guidelines in 2010 to allow for compression-only CPR,” he said. “People don’t have to give breaths to a victim in order to initially help them.”
Tammy McCoy, EMT with Sturgis Ambulance Service, teaches CPR classes for the City of Sturgis. “Compressions are a lot more important than breaths,” she said. “The compression to ventilation rate guideline has increased from 80 to 100 compressions to 100 to 120.”
“CPR Training also helps people know what to look for as symptoms of cardiac arrest,” said Hambek. These symptoms may include shortness of breath, nausea, chest pain and unconsciousness.
An important advancement in CPR technology is the updated AED or Auto External Defibrillator.
Many public locations today have AED’s available onsite and in accessible positions.
“AED’s have been around since the 1980’s,” said Hambek, “but they have been improved so that the way they are designed, the success rate of usage is equal whether the person is trained to use it or not.”
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McCoy said most people are pretty open to using an AED after calling 911 during an emergency, especially when they understand how uncomplicated it is to operate. “We have taught a hands-only course, going around to businesses and schools, and showed people that when you open the device, it walks you step-by-step with voice prompts. It will even analyze a heart rhythm to tell the helper what the victim needs,” she said.
CPR/AED training is available either in an online section with a local hands-on class for the remaining portion, or an all-classroom format, also offered locally.
“We get a tremendous amount of (ambulance) calls, where the victim is unresponsive and not breathing. Early CPR would really help before we can get there” said Hambek.
His experience led him to assist South Dakota state lawmakers in introducing 2017 Senate Bill 140, which passed this year. The bill requires hands-only CPR training for every high school student prior to graduation. “It only takes a local ambulance crew one 20-30 minute session to instruct students,” he said.
“Thirty-five states already mandate training for graduation, so reach out to your local representative and encourage them to support this bill for South Dakota.”
McCoy advises everyone to consider taking a CPR class and being prepared for the unexpected. “You never know when something so simple can really make a difference,” she said.