Interest in CPR increasing after Monday Night Football cardiac arrest

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 9:43 PM CST
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SIOUX CITY (KTIV) - The world was shaken when Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin collapsed on the field last Monday night, and it has motivated people across the country to take CPR classes and learn how to use an AED.

Sioux City Fire Rescue is just one organization that conducts these classes. They have certified training courses for individuals or businesses who require it. They also have free non-certified courses for anyone else.

Since Monday, they’ve seen a big increase in interest.

”Out of this really terrible event, a lot of good conversations about CPR and AEDs have risen to the top,” said Terry Ragaller, EMS Training Officer for Sioux City Fire Rescue. “We’ve gotten a couple phone calls this week about how can I take CPR classes. We’ve had churches and organizations now signing up for these free CPR classes. So, what happened Monday night has just started, I think, a national push for, ‘we need CPR.’ And it’s very easy to take these classes, very easy to get engaged in this. So, it kind of makes us happy because that helps our job.”

Classes typically take 1-2 hours.

If you’re interested in enrolling in these courses, reach out to Sioux City Fire Rescue or your local hospital.

KTIV visited Sioux City Fire Rescue’s training center to learn how you could help save a life.

”People call us first responders, but truly the first responder is the person that’s there in the home when that person collapses,” said Ragaller.

That’s why it’s so important for everyone to be trained in CPR.

“What they do in those first couple minutes is really imperative,” said Ragaller. “Every minute that goes by is a 10% less chance that person will survive in cardiac arrest. So, if it takes 2, 3, 4 minutes to get CPR started, that’s 20, 30, 40% less chance of survival. So, we need to get on the chest, push fast, push hard, and do it right away.”

When you’re with someone who’s entering cardiac arrest, the first step you want to take is ‘yes, no go.’

If they’re ‘yes’ to being unconscious and not breathing, then it’s time for you to go and start administering CPR. To do so, you’re going to want to get on the side of the person and fully lock your arm placing your palm right on the patient’s sternum. Then, you’re going to lock your other hand over and clasp your fingers together, and you’re going to push with locked arms using your bodyweight, at a steady pace. Think of the song, ‘Stayin’ Alive’ by the Bee Gees. That’s the perfect pace when administering CPR to get oxygenated blood back to the patient’s brain, according to Sioux City Fire Rescue.

This is a method called hands-only CPR. While mouth-to-mouth was recommended in the past, hands-only has proven to be the most effective.

“It’s really been promoted highly by the American Heart Association the last few years,” said Rageller. “They found the success rates are very high.”

Call 911 as soon as you can and continue giving CPR until the paramedics arrive and tell you to stop.

First responders say when someone enters cardiac arrest, their heart can enter a state called V-FIB, where it has small, shiver-like vibrations. Paramedics can use an AED to fix this by putting a clean electrical charge into the patient’s heart.

“The CPR pushes the blood into the brain and wakes the brain up,” said Ragaller. “But we need that electricity to knock out the bad electricity so the heart can restart itself in an organized fashion.”

Anyone can get an AED. They’re easy to use with straightforward instructions and are much more affordable than in years past. Ragaller says you can purchase one for under $1,000 and using one along with CPR gives you the best shot at saving someone’s life.