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Do you know CPR? DC leaders think you can help

WASHINGTON — What’s known as “bystander CPR” saves lives, and city leaders in D.C. want as many people as possible to learn how to perform hands-only CPR and gain automated external defibrillator (AED) awareness.

“Our [first] responders are going to get there quickly, but there’s typically a bystander there first, right? Your neighbor or a co-worker that can be there first and render assistance,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bower said.

Cardiac arrest survival rates in D.C. surpass national rates according to D.C. Fire and EMS Medical Director Dr. Robert Holman who credits aggressive promotion of hands on hearts: CPR training and use of the PulsePoint App.

D.C. offers free classes on the basics of hands-only CPR and AED awareness. AEDs are portable machines used to analyze a person’s heart rhythm and deliver an electrical shock, if needed, to get the heart back into a normal rhythm.

More than 50,000 people have been trained in D.C. in hands-on-hearts CPR, the mayor said. Hands-only CPR does not include administering breaths to victims, because evolving medical knowledge shows it’s more constructive not to interrupt compressions and to keep blood circulating through a person’s body and brain.

The PulsePoint App alerts users who know the basics of CPR to cardiac events that are occurring within a quarter mile of their locations, so they can “begin life-saving measures in those precious moments before our members arrive on the scene,” Holman said.

Quoting Fiscal Year 2018 statistics, Holman said in cases of cardiac arrest, where bystanders render CPR, the survival rate was 27 percent nationally, but 43 percent in the District.

PulsePoint is linked with fire rescue departments across the nation and locally, for example, such as in Anne Arundel County, Maryand, and Prince William County, Virginia

Do you know where the AED is?

A critical part of being able to provide assistance to cardiac patients is knowing where AEDs are in places you visit, such as libraries or rec centers, or in the building where you work.

“It’s very important,” Bowser said.

City leaders talked about all this, at a ceremony Dec. 20, honoring citizen first responders who sprang to action to help save the life of Charles Gordon, 75, who collapsed last month while waiting in line to vote.


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