Health
7:57 am
Fri January 18, 2013

Citywide CPR Effort Aims To Lower Cardiac Arrest Deaths

If a person suddenly collapses, CPR could mean the difference between life and death. That’s the message coming from city and hospital leaders in Kansas City, Kan., who want to train a lot more residents in the lifesaving technique.

In the lobby of city hall, Kevin Fogarty (r), a paramedic with KCK's fire department, trains Tania Taylor (l), Clyde Welsh and Terri Rankin (r), from the city's water pollution department, in CPR.
Credit Elana Gordon / KCUR

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“I think it wouldn’t be unrealistic that 50,000 people within an 18-month period could be exposed to this training,” says KCK fire chief, John Paul Jones. “I really think that’s feasible.”

Jones says to start, he hopes to train all 2,000 city employees in the no-hands CPR technique. It takes about 30 minutes to learn. Trainers from the fire department will also train trainers, and then take those skills into the community, like to schools and sports games.

According to Dr. Dennis Allin, medical director of the city’s EMS system and chair of emergency medicine at KU Hospital, nearly 90 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur at home. And he says too often, EMS responds to situations where loved ones didn’t know how to do CPR.

“It’s unbelievable the number of records I’ve read, that say ‘arrived at the home, family called, patient unresponsive.’ And what’s the first note the paramedic makes? ‘Took the patient out of her chair.’ So no one knew what to do,” says Dr. Allin. “I mean, this is their family, they cared, they wanted to help, but they didn’t know what to do, they never took her out of her chair. If we can affect that, then us [EMS] getting there quicker will actually do more good. I can’t get there fast enough if there’s no CPR.”

Dr. Allin says about one in five residents who suffer from cardiac arrest in KCK do survive without any long term damage. That’s really good, he says, but it can be better by having more people able to respond immediately with CPR, before EMS arrives.

The city is partnering with KU hospital on the initiative. It all kicked off yesterday with a proclamation from the mayor and hundreds of employees taking part in trainings at city hall.

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