Survivor helps groups promote CPR training, organ donation

The goal of the hands-only CPR training is to make bystanders feel comfortable to act in an emergency situation

By Lauren Rosenblatt
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

PITTSBURGH, Pa. — On the morning of January 20, 2010, Eileen Kline didn’t wake up. As they waited for the paramedics to arrive, her son and her husband performed CPR, ultimately saving her life.

Ms. Kline had been a cardiopulmonary resuscitation instructor for over 25 years, but her son had just learned the technique in school.

“I’m very thankful but as a mother, I wish I had been there to support them,” Ms. Kline, 56, from Upper St. Clair, said. “I feel like I need to spread the word. I feel like I was a lucky one.”

As part of spreading the word, Ms. Kline told her story at “Save Lives to the Beat,” an advocacy event to promote hands-only CPR training and organ donation.

With Zumba and Frisbees, representatives from the American Heart Association and CORE, the Center for Organ Recovery and Education, encouraged people to learn hands-only CPR so they would be prepared in the face of an emergency. At Saturday’s event in Schenley Plaza in Oakland, nurses demonstrated the procedure and then participants practiced the technique on a dummy. Representatives from CORE also spoke about the importance of organ donation and its ability to save lives for people like Ms. Kline, who eventually needed a heart transplant.

The goal of the hands-only CPR training is to make bystanders feel comfortable to act in an emergency situation, said Brenda Parks, director of multicultural initiatives at the American Heart Association. “If people know the basics, it’s a life saving technique,” she said.

Hands-only CPR is meant to keep blood flowing through the body if the heart can no longer do so. Unlike traditional CPR, this does not involve mouth-to-mouth resuscitation because it does not give the victim as much oxygen as once thought and is not always necessary, according to Linda Fleming Heath, a retired nurse from the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic in Oakland. Hands-only CPR focuses on blood circulation and Ms. Fleming Heath said the chest must rise between each compression in order to maximize the amount of blood that reaches the heart.

The goal is to reach 100 to 120 pumps per minute and each compression should be about two inches deep. Ms. Fleming Heath said if the compressions are not hard enough, the blood won’t make it to the brain.

“You can break ribs, you can puncture a lung,” she said. “But you can’t fix dead.”

CPR can double the chances of survival for someone like Ms. Kline, who was in cardiac arrest, which is when the heart has an abnormal rhythm and can no longer pump blood. Annually, there are more than 350,000 cardiac arrests that occur outside of the hospital, according to data from the American Heart Association, but only 46 percent of those victims get CPR from a bystander. To try to increase bystander participation, representatives from the heart association are working to require that students receive hands-only CPR training before they graduate from high school.

Annamore Matambanadzo of Crafton said she went to the event so she would be educated enough to encourage others to get the training, including students, immigrants and refugees. When she saw two medical students perform CPR for a man who had collapsed on the street, she said it was their confidence in their ability to perform CPR that allowed them to act so quickly.

“I’m going to be the ambassador,” she said. “I’m going to say ‘hey you need this training, it saves lives.’”

Copyright 2016 the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Recommended for you

Join the discussion

Copyright © 2023 EMS1. All rights reserved.