ALMA — The Disco Era song Stayin’ Alive is not just a smash hit released in 1977 by the Bee Gees. When used properly, it could actually help keep someong stayin’ alive.
“Every time you hear that song after today you’ll never forget what you’ve learned hear,” said Lane DeBruce, who is the chest pain coordinator at Mercy Hospital.
DeBruce was at the Alma Fire Department’s station on Collum Road on Saturday, Feb. 23, teaching hands-only CPR. Approximately 15 people stopped by to take the free class, learning in just a few minutes something that could help save someone’s life.
“In Arkansas you have an 80.2 percent chance of dying from a heart attack in the rural areas,” said DeBruce. “Im going to be doing more of this in the rural areas because that’s where the greatest need is. We need to educate everyone on hands-only CPR so they can call 911 and get the first responders and EMS there.”
Alma Fire Chief Eddie Wakefield, who will celebrate 28 years with the department in August, called the training, which actually takes nine minutes to learn, the “best under-10-minute lesson I’ve learned and have ever seen.”
DeBruce said the hands-only training offers a common sense approach to teaching someone how to keep a victim alive until first responders can get to the scene.
And if that goal can be accomplished, he said, “The surviveability of this patient has now increased by 50 percent.”
The training differs from full CPR training in that it’s hands-only — no mouth-to-mouth breathing by the person doing the CPR on the victim.
“Your natural reaction to seeing someone on the floor is to shake them and ask if they’re OK,” he began. “So you shake them vigorously, asking them if they’re OK. If you get no response — and after calling 911 to get the ambulance en route — the next step is to look, listen and feel. You’re looking for the chest to rise, you’re listening with your ear over their mouth and nose for any breathing. You’re feeling for any air exchange and you’re also feeling for it with your hand. The next step is to feel for a pulse by placing two fingers on one side or the other of their Adam’s apple, just an inch or so away from it, and then pressing to feel for the pulse.”
If there’s no pulse, compressions should then begin.
“If there’s no pulse, take your two fingers and slide them to the end of the breast bone,” DeBruce said. “Once you’ve located the end of the breast bone, put your hand there, then place your other hand on top of the hand that’s on the breast bone. And then you begin compressions."
This is where the Bee Gees come into play.
“With one hand on top of the other you’re going to push down about two inches,” said DeBruce, “and you’re going to have to do that about 120 times a minute and keep that up until a first responder arrives to take over. So if you have the song Stayin’ Alive going in your head, that’s the beat you want to push to.”
He added, “You’re not going to be breathing for them, you’re just doing CPR until help arrives.”
DeBruce said while it’s easy to get tired while keeping up with the compressions, if there are others around they can quickly pick up on how the process is done and take turns, thus giving the first person a break.
“I’ve had to do CPR when I was the only one who knew how to do it,” said Wakefield. “It’s sad to me to know there’s five people in the house and they’re waiting the additional time for a first responder to get there when they could have been doing something themselves to help the victim while they’re waiting. I’ve seen some survive and some didn’t.”
Which brings up one of the biggest positives of the hands free process: how easy it is to learn.
“I call it ‘see one, do one, teach one,’” said DeBruce. “Once you’ve seen it done, and you’ve done it once yourself, you can now go and teach a friend. It doesn’t matter if they’re 15 or 75, they can do this. That’s how simple it is.”
He added, “And now every time you’re going to hear that song you’ll think about this.”
DeBruce said some of the symptoms of a heart attack to look for that might lead up to the need for CPR include shortness of breath, chest pains or arm pains that a person has never felt before. Other symptoms include nausea, vomiting and heavy sweating.
“All of our guys are certified to do CPR,” said Wakefield. “But today’s event was for people coming by to stop in and say, ‘Hey, this only takes nine minutes and it’s something that can save a life.’”
DeBruce said, “It’s not easy to be CPR certified. There’s a lot of steps to remember and if you don’t do it every day you lose it. With hands only CPR it’s really easy. Every time you hear that song you’re going to think about these steps you’ve just been taught. And that’s what makes it associative.”
More importantly, he said, “You can save a life in the interim before EMS gets there. We’re not asking them to do it until the person gets to the hospital, you’re just asking them to do it until the first responders get there.”