Written by Gabriel Dillard
Kaiser Permanente Fresno and the American Heart Association’s (AHA) Central Valley division teamed up Monday to teach a group of Central High School students how to give hands-on-only CPR.
According to Kaiser’s Dr. Jesus Rodriguez, cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, accounting for a quarter of deaths nationwide. Nearly 300,000 people die from sudden cardiac arrest each year in the United States and in many cases, Rodriguez said, these deaths are preventable if only more people knew life-saving CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation).
Recognizing this need, Governor Jerry Brown signed AB1719 last year. The law, effective beginning with the 2018-19 school year, makes CPR training a high school graduation requirement for all students who need to pass a health education course in order to graduate.
Shannon MacAdam, the executive director of the AHA’s Central Valley division, said the law is a big deal, but the AHA wants to start implementing more CPR training in high school now, as the training can save lives. Knowing how to administer immediate CPR can double or even triple a person’s chance of survival, she said.
“We want people to get more in the mindset of doing something rather than nothing because it is proven that there is a much better chance of survival if you do something,” MacAdam said. “Compression can work. Our goal is to educate students, so we can train more people to take action.”
Each student in Central High’s leadership course was given a CPR kit that includes a DVD that demonstrates how to perform hands-only CPR and an “Annie doll” dummy the students can use to practice. The doll has a clicker that lets students know when they have applied enough pressure.
Rodriguez said recent studies have shown that just hands-only CPR is enough to save a life.
“For many years we’ve been doing studies and tests to figure out what is the most effective way to save a person’s life when they have a heart attack, and we found out that it is okay to do hands-only CPR,” Rodriguez said. “We used to think that giving breaths and CPR, pushing on the person’s chest, was required but now we know hands-on CPR is sufficient.”
“We want to move people away from the thought of doing mouth-to-mouth,” MacAdam said. “It is very effective but chest compressions are just as effective.”