Heart Month: Local foundation works to train public in CPR, AED skills

Compress and Shock Foundation holds CPR and AED Education Day every May

ROANOKE, Va. – A little more than an hour of your time could help you learn to save a life.

The Roanoke-based Compress and Shock Foundation works to teach the public compression-only CPR paired with how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). The goal is to help more people survive sudden cardiac arrest.

"I can't think of any other medical condition, stroke, trauma patients, where the outcome is entirely decided before that patient gets to the emergency department," said Dr. Jack Perkins, founder and executive director of the Compress and Shock Foundation.

The American Heart Association says there are about 356,461 incidents of cardiac arrest in the U.S. every year. About 90 percent of patients don't survive.

"There's only been two things that's ever been shown in studies to change the outcome of cardiac arrest, and they are two things that are available to the public. Number one is quality chest compressions," Perkins said. "Secondly, you're doing chest compressions so you can get that person hooked up to a defibrillator."

Each year on the third Saturday in May, the foundation holds its CPR and AED Education Day at fitness facilities across the area to teach people the three C's of CPR, quality chest compression skills and proper AED use. The three C's are check, call and compress.

"So you're checking them, 'Are you OK? Are you OK?' You're calling, activating 9-1-1 and then I'm going to compress if they have anything but normal breathing," Perkins said.

Kenneth Pearson, of Roanoke, knows firsthand the importance of having bystanders who know CPR. He suffered cardiac arrest in April 2018 while exercising at the Kirk Family YMCA.

"I collapsed on the track, and the people here from the Y came over and administered to me and gave me CPR and shocked me back to existence while the ambulance was on its way," Pearson said.

He said he's grateful for the YMCA staff who saved his life. 

"Having people here that were knowledgeable and had the equipment to do what needed to be done was essential, or I'd probably have not survived," Pearson said.

This year's CPR and AED Education Day will take place Saturday, May 18. The training takes about 75 minutes and is free.

"We see CPR and defibrillator education as life skills. That's something that every citizen of this country should have," Perkins said. "We don't think there should be any barrier to that education because education saves lives." 

For more information on the Compress and Shock Foundation and its CPR and AED Education Day, click here.  

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