Tuesday, January 25, 2000

Few know CPR here, study finds

Cincinnatians seem reluctant to learn

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Compared to residents in other cities, fewer Cincinnatians know how to administer emergency CPR, local health officials say.

        According to preliminary findings of a national study being compiled by the American Heart Association (AHA), fewer than one in three Cincinnatians knows emergency cardiopulmonary resuscitation methods that can save the life of a heart attack victim, said Alliea Phipps, a member of Operation Heartbeat, sponsored by the local AHA chapter.

• Every 20 seconds an American dies of cardiac failure.

• 70 percent to 80 percent of respiratory and cardiac arrests occur at home.

• Two other common locations where people suffer heart attacks: golf courses and shopping malls.

• Every year more than 5 million Americans receive CPR training from AHA officials.

• Cardiac arrest may follow a heart attack, but it can also happen without warning. — Source: American Heart Association

        One in two Seattle residents knows CPR, Ms. Phipps said.

        Generally, people are reluctant to take time, often only a couple of hours, to learn CPR, she said.

        “It's like riding a bicycle. Once you know it, you know it for life.”

        Cincinnati Police Sgt. Ken Fenech learned CPR decades ago while in the Army and has used it many times to help save lives while on duty.

        Sunday, a man collapsed at a recreational basketball league game in Loveland High School. Mr. Fenech entered the gym to play basketball and was immediately besieged by players, none of whom knew CPR.

        “They were asking everyone who came in if they knew CPR. I started doing compression on the man's chest, and I asked another player to help by breathing into his mouth,” he said of the victim, who remains hospitalized in serious condition.

        CPR kept the man breathing until paramedics arrived and applied electric shock to regulate his heart beat. “CPR is certainly a lifesaver. I've lost relatives to heart attacks,” Mr. Fenech said. “If CPR is started early enough, you can get their heart going again. It's not a hard thing to learn.”

        But it is quick reaction, with CPR knowledge, that saves lives, said Jerry Lautz, Cincinnati district chief of emergency medical services.

        Chief Lautz said the study of Cincinnati's CPR knowledge is preliminary, but his experience is that some people who don't know CPR are often reluctant to perform the lifesaving technique because they worry they may injure the heart attack victim's ribs by pumping the chest.

        “Or they are reluctant to do mouth-to-mouth,” he said.

        But he reminds people that “they may be able to save a loved one's life some day” with CPR techniques.

        On Feb. 5, the AHA and the Ohio Heart Health Center will sponsor free classes at five Greater Cincinnati locations. For information, call (800) 242-8721 or 281-4048.


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