CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two steps can save a life at times of cardiac arrest.
1. Call 911.
2. Push hard and fast in the center of the chest of the cardiac arrest victim.
Those are the steps for hands-only CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation and, beginning this week under a new state law, 911 emergency dispatchers in West Virginia are required to have training in telephonic CPR instruction so that they can tell 911 callers how to do it.
Existing statute has already covered that for years, though, according to information from the West Virginia E911 Council.
A 2013 law mandated that all 911 dispatchers be nationally-certified in Emergency Medical Dispatching, or EMD, which includes training in giving CPR instructions by phone.
Overall, Cindy Keely, state quality and systems improvement director for the American Heart Association, said hands-only CPR, at times called bystander CPR, is something most people should be able to perform easily.
“You don’t have to any official training even though there are classes available,” said Keely.
“Just doing compressions — you don’t even have to do mouth-to-mouth — by just doing high-quality compressions right in the center of the chest, you’re giving those people an opportunity, or at least a chance, to survive before EMS arrives.”
Recently, a visitor collapsed while at the American Heart Association office in Charleston.
“Myself and a couple other individuals who were here as visitors performed hands-only CPR and used an AED to resuscitate the individual who had collapsed from cardiac arrest and, thankfully, we were successful in our efforts,” said Keely who has had medical training.
AEDs are automatic external defibrillators, battery-operated devices that administer electrical shocks through chest walls to hearts and are available at many public locations.
About 70 percent of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen in homes, according to the American Heart Association.
In 46 percent of those cases, statistics showed the affected individuals received care prior to the arrival of paramedics. The rest were left waiting.
“Time is of the essence. Every minute that a person is not receiving CPR, their likelihood of survival diminishes at least ten percent,” Keely said. ”
Information above hands-only CPR is available HERE.
National CPR and AED Awareness Week runs through Friday.
SB 519 took effect Monday.