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EMS News in Focus
by Arthur Hsieh

2011 National CPR and AED Awareness Week

Programs that increase CPR and AED awareness are low cost, high yield, and loads of fun. That's a great recipe for success.

By Arthur Hsieh

June 1 is back again, and you know what that means: National CPR and AED Awareness Week!

If you read my column on a regular basis, you know that I am on a kick to really get us EMS folks to reach out to our true first responders in sudden cardiac arrest (SCA): the first layperson on the scene.

We know that the chance of walking away from an SCA improves greatly when chest compressions are immediately given; we also know it’s not possible for EMS to be posted on every street corner in the nation. So no, Dorothy, there is no wizard who will improve the nine percent national survival rate, and EMS is the best instrument to really get communities to buy in.

To put money where our mouth is, my organization again sponsored Sidewalk CPR in San Francisco, for the third year running.

After a brief press conference at City Hall, four teams of volunteers cajoled and humored members of the public into spending two minutes learning about compression only CPR, AEDs, and how to activate 911. This year, we focused on after-school programs that targeted middle school students in very diverse neighborhoods.

We didn't have sponsors, and there were no big signs or advertising. But with city government partners like the fire department, emergency communications bureau, city attorney's office and the American Heart Association, we were able to train over 185 persons in hands only CPR in about three hours.

Volunteers were trained in how to train others by using online video and "just in time" training prior to the events. We also used music again this year to create the rates necessary for adequate circulation.

The cost was low — the biggest effort was coordinating the agencies to provide equipment, staff and communications. Low cost, high yield. And loads of fun. That's a great recipe for success.

You can do this too — just ask me how. We are already thinking about next steps to train even more folks, all year-round.

I'd really love to hear about what you do in your community — let's share these ideas! The public is the big winner if we do.

About the author

EMS1 Editorial Advisor Art Hsieh, MA, NREMT-P currently teaches at the Public Safety Training Center, Santa Rosa Junior College in the Emergency Care Program. Since 1982, Art has worked as a line medic and chief officer in the private, third service and fire-based EMS. He has directed both primary and EMS continuing education programs. Art is a textbook author, has presented at conferences nationwide, and continues to provide patient care at an EMS service in Northern California. Contact Art at
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