December 24, 2013

CPR Can Make the Holidays Unforgettable

Whatever winter holiday is being celebrated at your place, you know that special holiday stories are usually an important part of the mix. This year, we’ve put together a few CPR rescue tales with a holiday theme. Some are a few years old, but all share the same essential message — the importance of a trained bystander in an emergency.

Grab your cup of cocoa and read on.

The Covington Reporter of Covington, Washington posted this story in February, 2012, when a Maple Valley resident came to the rescue of someone who usually teaches the rescuers herself.

Northshore Fire Department Fire Instructor (and CPR trainer!) Wendy Booth was saved by Matt Bill, a friend of Wendy’s who had been trained in CPR back in the ninth grade. Matt applied compressions while waiting for EMS to arrive after Wendy collapsed at a Christmas Day celebration in 2011.  EMS applied an AED and, after one shock, got Wendy’s heart started again.

According to the article:

“Although her heart had stopped, the chest compressions had kept the remaining oxygen in her blood circulating through her body, preventing both death and potentially devastating brain damage that can results from a lack of oxygen over an extended period of time.”

From our friends at the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, we learn of a volunteer firefighter hero named Nick Gerstel in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, whose Christmas dinner was interrupted for a lifesaving cause in 2012.

"Survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest decrease 10% with each passing minute,"

Nick got the call that a man was having an SCA incident down the street from the Gerstel’s home, and he knew the importance of an immediate response:

"Survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest decrease 10% with each passing minute," said Gerstel during an interview after the incident. "We have an AED at the fire station, which is only a minute or two away. It was imperative to get it to the patient as quickly as possible."

Christmas night being a busy one for the area’s ambulance fleet, Nick asked his fellow responders at the firehouse to bring the AED and other needed equipment to the victim’s home. A nurse at the victim’s family dinner had started CPR as Nick arrived, so they worked together to keep the compressions going.

After a shock from the AED, the man began to breathe on his own once again.

DNAInfo New York reported a story in 2009 that shows a bartender can provide something far more valuable than just a refill and a sympathetic ear. Bartender Carlye Waxman came to the rescue on Christmas Eve that year when a patron collapsed on his bar stool.

After activating EMS and seeing another patron decline to perform CPR, Carlye stepped up. She was directed in the proper chest compression technique by the 911 operator.

After 20 compressions, the man began breathing on his own. Following the operator’s instructions, Carlye continued compressions until the paramedics arrived.

We especially love this quote from the intrepid barkeep:

“Waxman said she is now going to sign up for a CPR class. ‘It’s important and you never know when you are going to need it, the man could’ve died,’ she said.”

Our last story is a reminder that lifesaving skills can make the difference for ANY member of our families at the holidays, even our pets. 

According to a 2005 story from the Ottawa Citizen and posted on animal issues blog “Aboard Noah’s Blog”, two firefighters were on duty Christmas Day that year when they and their crew were called to the scene of a living room fire.

"After some CPR and emergency oxygen administration, some petting and reassurance, and a wrap in a blanket, Rosco the German-Shepherd/Labrador mix came back to life."

No one was home at the time, but a firefighter on the scene found the family’s dog inside. It seemed to be too late.

The dog’s finder gave the unresponsive animal to Firefighter John McGovern and Lieut. Ian MacKinnon.

“Mr. McGovern put it down in the snow and pumped on its chest, while Lieut. MacKinnon cupped his hands over the dog’s mouth and blew in air.

A dog has a heart and lungs, just the same as a person, and CPR is effective, they said.

‘Works the same way,’ Lieut. MacKinnon said.”

After some CPR and emergency oxygen administration, some petting and reassurance, and a wrap in a blanket, Rosco the German-Shepherd/Labrador mix came back to life.

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We’ll give the last words in this story to Lieut. MacKinnon:

"We're firefighters and that's what we do," he said.

We all need heroes all year round, not just at the holidays. For 2014, resolve to take that CPR class yourself. Who knows, we might be featuring YOU here next year.

Find A Class, ASHI, MEDIC First Aid



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