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CPR and AED Awareness Week

Cardiac arrests can happen to anyone at anytime. That is why the American Heart Association is designating June 1-7 as CPR and Automated External Defibrillator, or AED, Awareness Week.

The goal is to raise awareness and educate the public on what to do if someone becomes a bystander in an emergency situation and needs to administer CPR.

About 383,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests happen each year, and 88 percent of those happen inside the home, according to the American Heart Association.

A lot of times victims are healthy and show no signs of heart disease or other risk factors. This makes it crucial that people know how to perform CPR.

Prompt Ambulance Service in South Bend is having classes this week for their employees so they can be prepared if they need to perform CPR.

“It's really just a reminder week of how to perform good CPR because fortunately we don't have to use it that often but when we do use it we want to make sure we're doing it properly and effectively,” said Ian Spindler Operations Manager and HR Liaison at Prompt Ambulance Service.

With a large number of cardiac arrests happening inside the home, it's likely learning the skill could end up saving one of your own loved ones.

“Getting CPR can double and sometimes triple your chances of survival. It's really important for people to learn this so they can have this for their own family member so they can be a little more comfortable with it at home,” Spindler said.

Learning CPR only takes about a minute with all the tools and information available online.

“You can go to the American Heart Association. The American Red Cross also offers CPR. There are videos on websites. YouTube will show you how to do CPR so you can find information pretty much anywhere,” he added.

A cardiac arrest happens when electrical impulses in the heart become rapid or chaotic, causing the heart to suddenly stop beating.

This is different from a heart attack, when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is blocked. However, a heart attack may cause cardiac arrest.

When getting ready to administer CPR,  the first step is to check to see if the person is responsive. If not, immediately call 911 and begin performing hard, fast, chest compressions.

"Interlock your hands and begin doing hard fast chest compressions," Spindler said as he demonstrated CPR.

AHA statistics show that three out of four Americans may feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency, but knowing what to do without hesitation can really save lives. 

“The fear is that we're always going to hurt somebody and generally we're going to break some ribs,” he said.

However, a few broken ribs are worth it if a life is saved.

“They're finding that good, high quality compressions increase the patients chances of survival so that's what we really want to impress on everybody,” he said.

For more information on how to learn how to perform CPR, click here.
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