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Hands-only CPR considered best way to save lives

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M.J. and Jackie Jackson saw an item in the paper about a hands-only CPR training session at Wilson Medical Center and knew it should be a part of their day Friday.

“The public needs to know this,” said M.J. Jackson of Saratoga, after practicing the lifesaving cardiopulmonary resuscitation technique.“You’re not always in the hospital when you have a heart attack. It’s good for them to have these classes. They need to know how to do the chest compressions, what the symptoms are and what the signs of a heart attack are.”

Jackie Jackson said she learned about how to perform the heart compressions on adults and understands that patients have to be lying on a flat surface for the compressions to be administered.

“You never know who you are going to run into someone who could be having heart problems, tightness in the chest or something or just pass out in front of you and you have to be prepared to do something until help gets there,” Jackie Jackson said.

The session was part the American Heart Association’s National Wear Red Day and February Heart Month.

Donna Beaman, stroke and chest pain center coordinator, said what people don’t realize is that chest compressions are the key to survival in adults who have a cardiac arrest.

“If we don’t keep the blood circulating to the heart and the brain, they may not survive at all, and if they do, they may have so much damage that they are not be able to go back to the life that they had before,” Beaman said. “What the American Heart (Association) recommends now is hands-only CPR. If you call 911 and a patient is unresponsive and doesn’t appear to be breathing or have a pulse, they are going to tell you to put both hands in the middle of the chest and push hard and fast until EMS gets there.”

Beaman said trying to talk somebody through opening the airway, giving breaths and checking for a pulse kept people away from the chest way too long.

“Brain damage starts to happen in three to five minutes, and we want people to get that blood moving as quickly as possible,” Beaman said. “It’s also a lot easier to get someone to come and help you if all you are saying is, ‘Hey, come help me. Put your hands like mine and press like this,’ as opposed to talking through health care provider CPR like we still do with EMS and health care workers.”

For the lay person out in the community, using automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, and hands-only CPR, is the most effective route to save a life.

“Heart disease is still the No. 1 killer in the United States and the No. 1 killer of women,” Beaman said. “It is the second-leading cause of death in North Carolina but nationwide is a huge mortality issue for us. People who have severe heart disease aren’t able to do what they used to do, and we want to try to give people the best outcomes as we can.”

Beaman held the clinics with Sidney Williford-Wilkerson, who is medical center’s infection prevention coordinator.

Both are critical care nurses and both are very passionate about CPR training and heart disease education and prevention.

People who are interested in hosting a CPR class for a community group can contact Danielle Vick, program coordinator for CPR at the hospital, by calling 252-399-8481 or emailing danielle.vick@wilmed.org.

More information on prevention is available at www.deputyheartattack.org.

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