The quickest way to save a life is to make sure blood continues to flow. That’s why the El Campo EMS Department wants to teach the public how to immediately help a person in cardiac arrest.
The department’s first Community CPR class will be held Wednesday, Aug. 18, and it will be open to 50 students, free of charge.
Why? It takes time for an ambulance to travel from the station to wherever that injured person may be.
“As EMS employees, our goal is to care for and successfully resuscitate all patients in cardiac arrest. We want to save lives,” El Campo EMS paramedic and spokesperson Darlene Giesalhart said Monday, adding, “We want our community to recognize the importance of bystander CPR. By the time the 9-1-1 response is activated, it takes minutes, and every second counts. During cardiac arrest, the heart cannot pump blood to the rest of the body, including the brain and lungs ... CPR uses chest compressions to mimic how the heart pumps.”
Every minute of assistance may make a difference.
“I can recall, a call I assisted with ... was a child in cardiac arrest. This child did receive bystander CPR and resuscitation was successful,” she said.
Giesalhart’s been there when the call came into the station too late – when the distance was too far, too.
“Seeing a co-worker, a family member, or witnessing someone you don’t even know go into cardiac arrest is very scary. Most people don’t know how to handle it or what to do ... with the training we will provide, (people can) focus on performing a life-saving measure that could ultimately save their life,” Giesalhart said.
The city hopes to offer the class quarterly, but no additional dates have been set yet.
The class will teach hands-only CPR as well as AED (Automated External Defibrillator) use. It does not cover all the skills needed for certification.
About 350,000 cardiac arrests happen outside of hospitals each year in the United States, according to the CDC. Most happen at home.
“We want to be able to show everyone and practice what it feels like, of course, before actually having to preform CPR on a real person. Attempting CPR even if you are scared or unsure is better than no CPR at all,” Giesalhart said. “With no CPR prior to first responders arriving, chances of survival are small.”
The Community CPR class will start at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 18 at the Duson Room of the El Campo Civic Center. Register by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the department at 979-543-3335. Registration is open to those age 13 and up, but will be closed at 50 participants.