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Knowing new CPR techniques could save a life

According to the American Heart Association, 88 percent of all cardiac arrests occur in the home.

Unfortunately, even if someone else is present, 70 percent of people say they would feel helpless in an emergency because they don't know or don't remember how to perform Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

First responders say it's more important than ever before to brush up on your knowledge of CPR.

Being able to immediately administer CPR could more than double someone's chance of survival and the recommended method has changed if you are administering CPR by yourself.

When Helen Servicky said 'I do', her husband isn't shy to admit his heart nearly skipped a beat.

Helen's heart did the same 62 years later only she didn't fall head over heels again. Instead, she fell over with a massive heart attack. She was unresponsive and not breathing.

In a frantic call to 911, Helen's husband, Edward, told the 911 operator, "She's gone, she's dead, come on, I need help!" 

Help was dispatched by Kimberly Phillips, a 911 operator with the Mecklenburg EMS Agency located in Charlotte, NC.

Edward then passed the phone to his son, Ron.

Phillips had only seconds on the phone to teach Ron the new way of administering CPR because the method has radically changed.

"Place the heel of your hand in the center of the chest right between the nipples," Phillips told Ron. "Put your other hand on top of that hand, push down firmly two inches."

"Pump the chest hard and fast at least two pumps per second," Phillips said. "We're going to do this 600 times or until help can take over."

The new technique requires you to do this 600 times, give two breaths, and then start counting to 600 again. 

Studies by the American Heart Association now say the key to survival is keeping the blood circulating.

Stopping to give frequent breaths stops the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain.

By doing this new procedure, Ron Servicky was essentially making his mother's heat beat for her by giving her enough time to let her chest come back up. This allows the blood to flow in and out of one of the body's hardest working and well-protected muscles.

"I heard a cracking noise," Ron Servicky recalls.

While this may sound alarming, on an elderly person, this means you are pushing with the right amount of force.

Experts say the necessary force may break a few ribs, but a cardiac arrest victim can survive a few broken bones. They can't if their heart isn't beating.

The beat of the new CPR procedures is faster than the previous requirement of one pump per second, or as first responders learn, the same pace as the appropriately named 1970s song, Stayin' Alive!

"She wouldn't be alive if he hadn't done CPR – she just wouldn't," Phillips told America Now Reporter Casey Roman.

Just a few months later, Phillips had the opportunity to meet the Servickys during a special reunion of first responders and the survivor.

"It was like seeing an angel," Ron Servicky said after meeting Phillips. "She's someone I'll hold special in my life forever."

For the special people in your life, first responders hope you will teach them the new version of this life-saving lesson.

"It is one of the basics of life," and Phillips adds, "It's just as important as teaching a child how to read."

"If people think it's a joke, by golly, I'll tell them it isn't a joke," Edward Servicky says. "It's a serious thing that everybody should know."

To this, Helen Servicky adds, "Learn it." 

More than six decades ago, Edward was asking for a lifetime in sickness and health.

Thanks to the success of the new CPR method, the help of the first responders, and their son, the Servickys might have many more years of keeping that promise.

Copyright 2012 America Now. All rights reserved.

Additional Information:

Before starting CPR:

  • Determine if the person is conscious or unconscious by tapping or shaking their shoulder and asking loudly -- "Are you ok?"
  • If there is no response, and two people are present, one should call 911 and one should begin CPR.
  • If there is only one person, call 911 before beginning CPR, unless the person was suffocated (i.e. drowning) in which case, begin CPR for one minute, then call 911.
  • If an AED is available, deliver one shock if instructed by the device, then begin CPR.

To improve circulation:

  • Put the person on his or her back on a firm surface.
  • Kneel next to the person's neck and shoulders.
  • Place the heel of one hand over the center of the person's chest, between the nipples. Place your other hand on top of the first hand. Keep your elbows straight and position your shoulders directly above your hands.
  • Use your upper body weight (not just your arms) as you push straight down on (compress) the chest at least 2 inches (approximately 5 centimeters). Push hard at a rate of about 100 compressions a minute.
  • If you haven't been trained in CPR, continue chest compressions until there are signs of movement or until emergency medical personnel take over. If you have been trained in CPR, go on to checking the airway and rescue breathing.

Check the airway:

  • If you're trained in CPR and you've performed 30 chest compressions, open the person's airway using the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver. Put your palm on the person's forehead and gently tilt the head back. Then with the other hand, gently lift the chin forward to open the airway.
  • Check for normal breathing, taking no more than five or 10 seconds. Look for chest motion, listen for normal breath sounds, and feel for the person's breath on your cheek and ear. Gasping is not considered to be normal breathing. If the person isn't breathing normally and you are trained in CPR, begin mouth-to-mouth breathing. If you believe the person is unconscious from a heart attack and you haven't been trained in emergency procedures, skip mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing and continue chest compressions.

Deliver breaths:

  • With the airway open (using the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver), pinch the nostrils shut for mouth-to-mouth breathing and cover the person's mouth with yours, making a seal.
  • Prepare to give two rescue breaths. Give the first rescue breath — lasting one second — and watch to see if the chest rises. If it does rise, give the second breath. If the chest doesn't rise, repeat the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver and then give the second breath. Thirty chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths is considered one cycle.
  • Resume chest compressions to restore circulation.
  • If the person has not begun moving after five cycles (about two minutes) and an automatic external defibrillator (AED) is available, apply it and follow the prompts. Administer one shock, then resume CPR — starting with chest compressions — for two more minutes before administering a second shock. If you're not trained to use an AED, a 911 or other emergency medical operator may be able to guide you in its use. Use pediatric pads, if available, for children ages 1 through 8. Do not use an AED for babies younger than age 1. If an AED isn't available, go to step 5 below.
  • Continue CPR until there are signs of movement or emergency medical personnel take over.

 The following CPR statistics are from the American Heart Association <http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/CPRAndECC/WhatisCPR/CPRFactsandStatistics_UCM_307542_Article.jsp

  • 70 percent of Americans may feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they either do not know how to administer CPR or their training has significantly lapsed.
  • Home is where 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur.
  • Nearly 383,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually.
  • Sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack.
  • Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become rapid or chaotic, which causes the heart to suddenly stop beating.
  • A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is blocked. A heart attack may cause cardiac arrest.
  • Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim's chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.
  • Sadly, less than eight percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive