LEXINGTON — When it comes to cases of sudden cardiac arrest, bystander CPR can double or even triple survival rates, but in the majority of such incidents there is no immediate help.
According to Kim Harkins, who heads a resuscitation consortium, that’s partly due to people not being certain how to perform CPR, or they may be wary of giving mouth-to-mouth. Harkins said however that the recommended method has changed over the years so it’s now simply rapid chest compressions to a disco beat.
“We really encourage people just to compress on the chest, at least two inches, 100 times a minute,” she instructed. “You can do it to the beat of ‘Stayin’ Alive.’ So it is much easier, which takes away that fear of doing it wrong or having to give breaths.”
According to the American Heart Association, 70 percent of Americans do not know how to administer CPR. That’s equal to three million of Kentucky’s 4.3 million people.
According to Michael Poynter, executive director of the Kentucky Board of Emergency Medical Services, doing something is better than doing nothing.
“CPR can be taught in just a matter of minutes and it can really make a difference in life or death.”
As in many states, there’s a good Samaritan law in Kentucky providing protections to those who take life-saving actions in emergency situations.
While cardiac arrest is generally considered an issue for those who are older, Kim Harkins said it can happen anywhere, at any time and, really, at any age.
“We see all the time younger people, people who have been participating in activities, that suddenly collapse and that is the population often with undiagnosed heart problems or congenital heart problems,” she said.
This is National CPR and AED Awareness Week.