CPR training, health fair this Saturday

Published 10:18 pm Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A free event this Saturday will teach folks how to keep other people “Stayin’ Alive” in the event of sudden cardiac arrest.

The Western Tidewater Medical Reserve Corps and American Heart Association will hold the Hands-Only CPR and Community Health Fair from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Suffolk Health and Human Services Building, 135 Hall Ave.

The highlight of the event will be 30-minute training sessions for people who want to learn hands-only CPR. It differs from traditional cardiopulmonary resuscitation because the person providing hands-only CPR does only chest compressions and does not give breaths.

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“Although 911 is your first call and it’s your safest bet, it’s the time between when you make that call and when someone arrives on scene to do something,” said Jim Steil, coordinator of the Western Tidewater Medical Reserve Corps. “That’s time that your brain and your body is dying, and anybody can do something by doing this very simple two-step process.”

The American Heart Association recommends hands-only CPR for teens or adults who suddenly collapse and are unresponsive. Those people likely were breathing normally before their cardiac arrest and still have air in their lungs that can help them survive if it gets pumped, the association says on its website.

To administer hands-only CPR, a person pushes hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of the classic disco song “Stayin’ Alive.”

It still recommends conventional CPR for infants and children, as well as anyone found already unconscious and not breathing normally or any victims of drowning, drug overdose, collapse due to breathing problems or prolonged cardiac arrests.

Studies by the association have shown people are more likely to attempt to help if they know about hands-only CPR. Any attempt at CPR is better than no attempt, it says.

The first 140 participants also will receive kits provided by the Suffolk Foundation that help them to train others, such as their family, friends or organizations.

Steil encouraged anyone to participate in the sessions.

“You might make the difference in a life saved or a life lost,” he said.

The health fair also will include the following information:

  • Free diabetes screenings by the Eastern Virginia Medical School for anyone 18 or over
  • Counseling support services by Virginia 2-11
  • Insurance registration information for children and pregnant women by Virginia Family Access to Medical Insurance Security
  • Education on health and wellness issues by American Diabetes Association and Healthy People/Healthy Suffolk
  • Balance screenings and assessments for neck, back and shoulder pain by Tidewater Physical Therapy
  • Information on the prevention and treatment of tick-borne illnesses by the Lyme Disease Association.

The event is free to all participants, but people should pre-register for the CPR classes by calling Steil at 514-4768.