CPR: A Lesson that Saves Lives

The new American Heart Association resuscitation and emergency cardiovascular guidelines, published a few weeks ago in Circulation, call on cities and counties nationwide to strengthen and monitor every step in how they respond to cardiac arrests that occur outside a hospital. The objective is to improve survival, which varies widely across the country, according to the guidelines.

“Your chances of surviving a cardiac arrest shouldn’t depend on which city you live in, or which EMS system responds or which hospital you go to,” said Robert Neumar, M.D., Ph.D., immediate past chair of the AHA’s Emergency Cardiovascular Care Committee. He is also a professor and chair of the University of Michigan Health System’s Department of Emergency Medicine.

More than 326,000 Americans have cardiac arrests outside of a hospital each year. The heart suddenly stops, most often because of a chaotic heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation, or VF. CPR can manually circulate a small amount of blood, and an automated external defibrillator, or AED, can shock the heart back to a normal rhythm.

Unfortunately, cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time. That’s why it’s absolutely vital that everyone be prepared to act in case the unimaginable happen. In the summer of 2014, New Jersey passed legislation that requires all high school students learn hands-on CPR as a graduation requirement. This way, in addition to learning math, reading and science, students learn the skill of how to save a life.

Locally, the American Heart Association and Meridian Health have come together in an effort to train the next generation in CPR through the Community Life Saver Program –a first of its kind initiative at the Jersey Shore.

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The Community of Lifesavers program has trained over 6,000 students to date in the lifesaving skill of CPR

“The Community of Lifesavers movement has helped train more than 6,000 high school students in Monmouth and Ocean counties to perform bystander initiated CPR and use an AED, which ultimately gives them the power to save a life,” says Dawn Calderon, D.O., chief of Cardiology at Jersey Shore University Medical Center.

Working with multiple schools within Monmouth and Ocean Counties, the program provides each school with an American Heart Association CPR in Schools kit, as well as several American Heart Association CPR Anytime kits. Meridian Health professionals provide hours of education and training to students, showing them hands-on experience as well as answering questions and providing additional information.

“Just recently, an 18-year-old from Monmouth County suffered sudden cardiac death while swimming. Hours later, a 16-year-old from Ocean County suffered a life threatening asthma attack while riding his bike, resulting in his heart stopping. In both cases, bystanders started CPR and called 911,” says Dr. Calderon. “The bystanders who performed CPR were ages 17 and 16. When trained teens perform CPR, lives can be saved!”

The AHA guidelines have been updated every five years through a process involving more than 250 international experts from the AHA and six other resuscitation councils that form the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation.

You can also become a lifesaver by learning CPR. All it takes is 60 seconds. Visit www.heart.org/handsonlycpr.

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