CRANBERRY TWP — Sometimes all it takes to save a life are two hands.
That is all that “hands-only” cardiopulmonary resuscitation requires. This method of CPR eschews artificial respiration by breathing into the victim's mouth, which can make some people apprehensive. Instead, it concentrates solely on chest compressions.
The method teaches people to first call 911 and then begin the compressions. Compressions should continue until emergency service providers arrive.
Steve Bicehouse, director of Butler County Emergency Services, said that this type of CPR is designed for the public to use if someone goes into cardiac arrest.
“This is for the untrained provider,” Bicehouse said. Trained providers still use the conventional method, where chest compressions are mixed with artificial respiration.
He said the hands-only method keeps oxygenated blood circulating while minimizing the risk of infection by mouth, giving people an incentive to do it while waiting for emergency personnel.
“It's better to do something ... than to do nothing at all,” Bicehouse said.
On Nov. 17, the Cranberry Township Emergency Medical Service hosted a training session at the township municipal center.
The training is part of a national push by the American Heart Association to get as many people trained to increase survival rates for sudden cardiac arrest.
Bicehouse said it is a good idea for people to become trained in this method.
“I encourage that,” Bicehouse said. “I don't think it is as known as it should be.”
Ted Fessides, deputy director of Cranberry EMS, said the goal of the class was to get many people trained quickly in the life-saving technique.
“It's all about getting as many public people as we can out there and trained,” Fessides said.
He said that the main signs of cardiac arrest are a person being unconscious and having no visible chest movement. CPR should be done any time someone appears this way to increase the chances of survival, he said.
“It all starts with early CPR,” Fessides said.
Tom Ewing of Cranberry Township came to the class for personal reasons.
“I'm a heart patient, and my wife is a heart patient,” Ewing said.
He had a heart attack 10 years ago and had quintuple bypass surgery two years ago. Additionally, his wife has had a minor heart episode. This makes the training important to him.
“Just in case,” Ewing, 59, said.
Joyce Dugas of New Sewickley Township said her mother is elderly, but does not have any heart issues. Still, she chose to take the class.
“To learn how to save someone's life,” Dugas said of why she attended.
She took a CPR class years ago, and she wanted to see what has changed since then. In the past, she did have some concerns about the breathing portion.
“But, I did it,” Dugas said.
Rosemary Mozes of Adams Township said that she took a CPR class 11 years ago.
“I want a refresher, I guess. Just in case I ever need it,” Mozes said.
She said her mother and husband have had heart issues. Although she never had to use CPR, she said it is best to know how to do it.
“It's just nice to learn it,” Mozes said.
Additional information on this method is available at www.handsonlycpr.org.