Putting Heart into the Hands of Teton County

(Jackson, Wyo.) - Cardiac arrest is killing thousands of people in the United States each year. But by partnering with the Breakfast Rotary Club and emphasizing Hands-Only CPR, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS is hoping to save more lives. Every June 1-7th, the United States celebrates National CPR Awareness Week and yet, despite classes around the country and community efforts at shopping malls demonstrating chest compressions on plastic manikins, the statistics that a bystander will perform CPR on a patient without a pulse are low. Currently, if you suffer a sudden cardiac arrest, sadly, there is a high likelihood no one will attempt to keep your heart beating in the critical minutes before paramedics arrive. Over 1,000 people a day suffer cardiac arrest in the U.S. Of these cardiac arrests, 88 percent occur at home and, tragically, bystander CPR is attempted in less than 32 percent of the cases. In a sudden cardiac arrest, survivability drops 10 percent for every minute CPR is delayed, which means, without bystander CPR prior to the arrival of paramedics, there is little chance of reviving the victim. It’s not that people are unwilling to help during an emergency but, in the case of a cardiac arrest, they often feel helpless. Bystanders fear lawsuits from trying to step in and assist; worry about infection from performing mouth-to-mouth, or don’t want to risk “hurting” a patient in cardiac arrest by performing chest compressions. Recognizing this, the American Heart Association (AHA) modified its guidelines in 2008, removing mouth-to-mouth from the treatment protocol in favor of continuous hands-only chest compressions (to the beat of the Bee Gee’s classic “Stayin’ Alive”) for community responders and reminded citizens of the Good Samaritan laws that protect them. “Call 911. Push hard and fast,” the comedic actor, Ken Jeong, shouts in the AHA’s hilarious, seventies-themed, instructional video. “Disco can save lives!” With the simplified guidelines, a quiet revolution began, lead by a new breed of unlikely heroes such as nine-year-old Tristin Saghin from Arizona and eleven-year-old Skylar Berry from California. By using the CPR he’d seen in a movie, Tristin saved the life of his two-year-old sister after he found her floating lifeless in their grandmother’s pool; and, after she successfully revived one of her friends at a birthday party, Skylar started the “Stayin’ Alive Club” at her elementary school to teach her classmates about CPR. [image: Inline image 1] *Firefighter/EMT Andrew Zimmerman.* *h/t Kevin Grange / Pitchengine Communities* Building on this momentum—and thanks to a generous grant from the Breakfast Rotary Club—Jackson Hole Fire/EMS has exciting plans to educate our community about the life-saving technique of Hands-Only CPR. The technique involves two simple steps: call 9-1-1, and push hard and fast at the center of the chest, at a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute. Our goal is to increase the number of people in our community who are prepared and willing to provide CPR in the event that someone experiences a cardiac arrest in their presence. This simple action means that Jackson Hole Fire/EMS paramedics will arrive to find bystander CPR in progress and a patient with well-oxygenated blood in their heart and brain, and much more apt to respond to advanced life support interventions. International research—and our own local experience—have demonstrated that early bystander CPR is critical to a victim’s survival. In order for our EMS system to give people their best chance for a return to a full and active life, we need our community’s help. The success of the high resuscitation rates in Seattle—historically known as the “best place to have a heart attack”—show that it takes a community-based approach for success in cases of sudden cardiac arrest. In Seattle—where half the population knows CPR, or is instructed about it by 911 dispatchers, and there is an abundance of AEDs—the survivability for a patient in the lethal heart rhythms of ventricular tachycardia or ventricular fibrillation reached 62% in 2013; whereas the resuscitation rates in Chicago, New York City and other urban areas is in the single digits. On Saturday, May 7th, Jackson Hole Fire/EMS launched our initiative at the Health Fair where dozens of local residents where trained in Hands-Only CPR and we have great plans for the upcoming year. This week, we will bring our Hands-Only CPR campaign to various businesses around town such as Whole Grocer, Smiths, and Albertson’s to teach this life-saving technique to additional people. Along with this, we are also planning to film an educational Hands-Only CPR video that can be easily shared on social media and are brainstorming ways to engage the youth of Teton County in our initiative. Our hope is that one day—whether under the antler arch, at the supermarket or beside the rushing majesty of the Snake River—no resident or tourist in Teton County will collapse in sudden cardiac arrest without a bystander rushing to them and giving them a fighting chance at survival by first calling 911, then performing hands-only CPR prior to the arrival of Jackson Hole Fire/EMS. Article and photos by Kevin Grange, a firefighter paramedic with Jackson Hole Fire/EMS and author of Lights & Sirens: The Education of a Paramedic. *Feature Photo: Battalion Chief Mike Moyer and Firefighter/EMT Andrew Zimmerman. h/t Kevin Grange / Pitchengine Communities* #buckrail #news