2011-06-15 / Features

CPR To Go Classes Can Save Lives

BY RICHARD GENTILVISO

On May 20, a man collapsed at Borden Avenue and 27th Street near the Midtown Tunnel. A 911 emergency call at 11:08 a.m. said the man was in his 50s and appeared to be having a seizure.

Engine Company 258 in Long Island City responded and in minutes Lieutenant Eugene Szatkowski checked for a pulse and found none while Firefighter Theo Mitritzikos and Firefighter Michael Babb, both former EMTs, jumped into action. Mitritzikos immediately began CPR and Babb applied the automated artificial defibrillator as CPR continued until EMS arrived.

In the ambulance, Paramedics Arnold Silva and David Kher and EMTs Zhangkai Lin and Christopher Specht were able to restore the man’s heartbeat and took him to Bellevue Hospital. “In situations like this, minutes and seconds count,” Szatkowski said, according to a press release at www.nyc.gov/fdny.

CPR To Go, classes that provide free bystander CPR training, aims to provide that precious time, FDNY EMS Chief Roger Ahee said. “It is my hope that we can get as many New Yorkers trained as possible through CPR To Go,” Ahee said at the May meeting of the Queens Borough Cabinet.

Every year, EMS treats nearly 300,000 victims of cardiac arrest. In Queens, there were 84,000 victims of cardiac arrest last year and just 2,500 survivors. Less than three percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital survive in New York City. Less than one-third of victims receive CPR from a trained bystander.

In the state of Washington, every licensed driver is required to be trained in CPR, Ahee said, adding that effective bystander CPR can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. In Seattle, Washington the survivor rate from cardiac arrest is 44 percent. In comparison, the rate in New York City is 25 percent. The rate of bystander CPR in Queens was 26 percent in 2010. Manhattan had the highest rate in the city, at 34 percent.

“Immediate CPR is the best way to increase the survivor rate [from sudden cardiac arrest],” EMS Lieutenant Robert Augente, a CPR To Go trainer, said. Certified New York State Emergency Medical Technicians (EMS), also certified as American Heart Association CPR Instructors, teach community members bystander CPR, Augente added.

Since its inception in 2005, CPR To Go has directly trained nearly 65,000 community members and reached another 20,000 in partnership with the Mayor’s Office.

Under one hour from start to finish, the class includes demonstrations and training with a practice mannequin. Participants are taught to recognize signs of cardiac arrest, call 911, make chest compressions and use an automated external defibrillator. They also receive a CPR kit and make a pledge to train five additional family members or friends.

CPR To Go is free through the EMT Mobile CPR Unit. While the goal is to raise awareness of the importance of immediate action in cases of sudden cardiac arrest, the program does not offer CPR certification.

To schedule CPR To Go classes, groups of at least six to 25 participants, space and a power source for audio-visual equipment are needed. For more information, call 718-281-3888.

To schedule CPR To Go classes, groups of at least six to 25 participants, space and a power source for audio-visual equipment are needed. For more information, call 718-281-3888.

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