One city, 80,000 lifesavers

One city, 80,000 lifesavers

UF physician hopes bystander CPR training will improve cardiac arrest survival rate

By Matt Galnor

Gone are the days of searching for a pulse and applying mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to try to save someone.

Now there are just two simple steps: Call 911, then push hard and fast until emergency crews arrive.

It’s so simple that a physician at the UF College of Medicine-Jacksonville is leading the charge to fill the city’s EverBank Field (where the Jacksonville Jaguars play) with local residents newly trained in bystander CPR.

Joseph Sabato Jr., M.D., a UF assistant professor of emergency medicine and director of field operations and disaster management, thinks the community can get 80,000 people trained by May. That, Sabato said, would in turn increase the now 5 percent survival rate of sudden cardiac arrests in Jacksonville.

Only one-third of those people received bystander CPR, the No. 1 factor in whether a person survives. But if the entire city can be trained, the survival rate could triple to 15 percent, as it is in Seattle where there’s been a serious push to learn the life-saving skill, Sabato said.

Training takes two minutes — 90 seconds to learn it and 30 seconds to do a quick demonstration.

“It’s a little bit longer than a TV commercial — about where people’s average attention span is nowadays,” Sabato said.

When most people think about CPR, Sabato says their mind usually goes right to mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. There’s a natural uneasiness there, especially with today’s focus on spreading germs. But research has shown there is no need for mouth-to-mouth. The body has enough oxygen to make it six minutes and the key is to keep the heart pumping blood, Sabato said.

Although it has been 10 years since the standard changed, many people are not aware.

“It’s so simple, there’s really no reason we can’t train everyone,” Sabato said.

The effort is called Take Heart First Coast and, along with Sabato and UF, the First Coast EMS Advisory Council is taking a lead role.

Sabato will be among those taking the training show on the road throughout Jacksonville this year and getting others certified to train people as well. Last month, about 50 students at Stanton College Preparatory School were taught to be trainers. The school’s medical society has taken a lead role on the project and a mechanical engineering student has discovered a way to keep costs down using basketballs and footballs in training instead of likelike inflatable models, which cost $35.

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