NM AMR offering free CPR training for EMS Week
Compression-only CPR allows bystanders to keep blood flowing through a victim’s body just by pressing on the chest
By Jacqueline Devine
The Alamogordo Daily News
OTERO COUNTY, N.M. — The American Medical Response of Otero County is offering the community free compression-only cardiopulmonary resuscitation training that can possibly help save a life on Wednesday, May 18, outside of Walmart.
In observation of National Emergency Medical Services Week and World CPR Challenge Day, American Medical Response operations across the country will train thousands of people to save lives through compression-only CPR.
CPR is a lifesaving technique used when someone is suffering from a heart attack or has been in a near drowning situation where their breathing or heartbeat has stopped.
Compressions-only CPR involves hands compressing on the chest uninterrupted about 100 times a minute until paramedics arrive. Rescuing breathing is not necessary. The maneuver applies to adults, children and infants but not newborns.
AMR Administrator Supervisor David Wheeler said compression-only CPR allows bystanders to keep blood flowing through a victim’s body just by pressing on the chest in a hard, fast rhythm.
“We do compressions at 100 per minute and we don’t stop and that’s the big key with doing compressions, is to not stop so that when the responders get to the scene we continue CPR. We don’t move the patient,” Wheeler said. “That’s what’s going to keep the oxygen going to the brain and then we can do the rest of the lifesaving maneuvers with the medications and the IVs plus we talk to physicians on the communications systems that way we get the best chances of the patient surviving.”
Wheeler has been working for the Otero County American Medical Response team for 17 years and he was a paramedic for 37 years. When he was 16-years-old he became a junior volunteer firefighter and has wanted to help people ever since he witnessed an infant get hit by a car.
“I was a junior volunteer firefighter and I actually saw an 18 month old get hit by a car. I felt helpless,” Wheeler said. “I was 16-years-old, I didn’t know what to do and from that point on I decided I will never be in that situation ever again. I was an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) before I graduated high school, the year I graduated high school I was a licensed paramedic. I was one of the youngest licensed paramedics in the state of Texas.”
He said the American Medical Response has really been pushing communities across the nation to learn compression-only CPR because heart attacks are one of the top causes of death in the United States and the training only lasts about 5 to 10 minutes.
“We’re really pushing it this year and trying to educate the public as much as we can. It doesn’t take long, they can do it before they get their groceries,” Wheeler said. “We are really enhancing the emergency responders in Otero County. Anyone can learn CPR, even kids. After a course, people will receive certificates. It’s not a full CPR course, they have those for workplaces or if you’re a healthcare provider. The compression-only CPR is designed for the general public.”
He said it is crucial that a victim receives CPR if they are unconscious because as soon as their heart stops it takes an average of about seven minutes for heart damage and brain failure to occur.
“When the heart stops that’s when zero time starts, within four to six minutes that’s when brain death starts. Beyond 10 minutes the brain is without resuscitation,” Wheeler said. “Our average response time for Alamogordo is seven minutes, so anything after that brain damage can start occurring. We want the public to be doing CPR. If the brain goes without oxygen for too long it can be tough to bring the patient back.”
In July 2015 Gerald Champion Regional Medical Center (GCRMC) opened their first cardiac catheterization lab which has increased the chance of survival for victims of cardiac arrest.
Wheeler said before the cath lab opened patients were transferred to Las Cruces by ambulance or helicopter and CPR was one of the only ways to keep a patient alive. But now that the cath lab is in operation medical physicians can now guide a catheter into a clogged artery.
“In the cath lab they will go in and guide a catheter into a clogged artery in the heart and put stents in to keep that area alive so blood supply will keep going,” he said. “We are progressing with medicine in rural communities, it’s getting sophisticated. It’s all about saving patients. With the cath lab here hopefully we catch a lot more patients before they get into major trouble and they can correct them there that way they don’t get into that cardiac arrest situation.”
Wheeler said if anyone experiences any chest pains, pain running down their left arm, shortness of breath or nausea must dial 9-1-1 immediately. Compression-only CPR should only be done if the victim is unconscious and they are waiting for a paramedic to arrive.
“We don’t move the patient because we don’t want to interrupt CPR. We used to put them on a board and put them in an ambulance but every time we stop CPR the blood supply drastically stops. The pressure we built on the chest drastically drops and now the brain is without oxygen and it takes time to build that back up,” he said. “Every time we do that chances of survival decreases significantly. Always dial 9-1-1 if you are feeling any kind of chest discomfort.”
Wheeler said a healthy lifestyle is key to maintaining a healthy heart.
“Exercise watch your diet, if you smoke, stop. That’s the number one contributor to heart attacks,” he said. “Getting annual physicals is also important.”
Copyright 2016 the Alamogordo Daily News