By Donna Swicegood email@example.com
About a half-dozen people walked out the gymnasium at North Iredell High School Saturday better prepared to save a life.
The people, ranging from adults to teenagers, learned how to perform CPR and to operate an automated external defibrillator (AED), and it was all thanks to the efforts of a North Iredell High School senior.
Nathan Rambo, a player on the Raider baseball team, organized the CPR/AED class as his senior project. Rambo said he realized the need for more people to know CPR as a result of his athletic career at North. While playing baseball, he thought about the possibilities of a player getting struck in the chest with a ball or injured in some other way, and knew if someone at the game knew what to do, it would likely make a difference, he said.
Rambo enlisted the help of Iredell EMS Assistant Director Ryan Wilmoth and shift supervisor Dawn Toohey to teach CPR skills. This was not a class that resulted in a certification for the participants, but it did give them the chance to learn those valuable skills, Rambo said.
Wilmoth said the biggest obstacle in getting folks to learn CPR is the fear factor. He dispelled one myth quickly. “You’re not going to hurt anybody,” he said.
Toohey and Wilmoth did tell those in the class that there is a chance of breaking a rib when performing CPR, but being concerned about a broken rib is minor if a person is not breathing. “A broken rib will heal,” he said.
Toohey said people are also often reluctant to learn CPR because of a concern about the possibility of administering mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on a stranger. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is no longer a part of the CPR protocol, she said. The emphasis is strictly on chest compressions.
Toohey and Wilmoth said the sooner chest compressions are started after a sudden cardiac arrest, the chances for a positive outcome increase dramatically, and that’s why bystander CPR is so vital, they said.
Most sudden cardiac arrests occur in either a home setting or in a public place. “Four out of five happen at home or in Wal-Mart or at the mall,” Wilmoth said.
Starting chest compressions immediately and continuing until help arrives increases the survival rate dramatically, Wilmoth said.
He told the class the first thing they need to do when someone collapses is see if they are responsive and breathing. “If you say ‘are you all right’ and they don’t respond and they’re not breathing, start CPR,” Wilmoth said.
Those in the class were able to get hands-on experience practicing on a CPR dummy. Toohey said 100 compressions per minute is recommended. WIlmoth said CPR needs to be continued until help arrives – usually within three minutes and in the form of a first responder. “You’ll be tired,” he said, and he warned them not to put themselves in danger. “If you need a break, take a break,” Wilmoth said.
Tanya Muncy, town clerk for Harmony, said she wanted to learn CPR because she is a mother. With a 4-year-old and a 16-year-old, she said, she knows there’s always a chance those skills may be needed.
Caroline Ward, who took the class Saturday, said she was appreciative of Rambo’s initiative in arranging the CPR training.
“I appreciate you doing this. This is a great thing. Kids, adults – we all need to know this,” she said.