Red Cross chapters across Nebraska hope to convince people to update their CPR skills and to learn how to use the device that can jump-start a heart — the automated external defibrillator. Red Cross spokeswoman Maryann Sinkler says AEDs are in many public buildings, health clubs, stadiums, offices and apartment buildings — but they won’t save lives by themselves.
Sinkler says, “The Red Cross’ mission is to help people prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies so CPR/AED Awareness Week is just a super way to get the word out to our community in hopes that more people will take the time to take a CPR class, to learn about automated external defibrillators and to be prepared to respond to an emergency, right here at home.”
Some Nebraskans may have taken a CPR class years ago and think they know how to perform it, but Sinkler says, you’re likely pretty rusty and your training could use an update. “Over the years, the science changes, the teaching techniques and the way that the American Red Cross deems it appropriate for people to learn and best respond to emergencies changes,” Sinkler says. “You want to take those classes over and over, take refresher classes and make sure that when that emergency happens, you know exactly what to do.”
While many people know CPR, many more likely have not been trained on the AED. Sinkler says that’s why Red Cross workshops are so important, to take some of the “willies” out of using the life-saving devices. “They can see a demonstration,” Sinkler says. “They can hear testimony from somebody who has had an AED used on them and also used an AED and they can get their hands on the AED, look at it and feel more confident that they would know what to do.”
Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death among adults in Nebraska. Nationwide, it kills an estimated 250-thousand people every year. She says improved training and access to AEDs could save 50-thousand lives a year from sudden cardiac arrest.
“The scary thing is, it strikes with no warning,” Sinkler says. “There’s no symptoms that come beforehand like in a heart attack. Sudden cardiac arrest is essentially a short-circuit of the heart and it needs an AED to reset that electrical energy. CPR is a part of that because it will keep the blood flowing but there has to be an AED within minutes of somebody who experiences sudden cardiac arrest.”
It takes an ambulance, on average, between eight and ten minutes to arrive after 911 is called. For each minute defibrillation is delayed, the chance of survival for a person in cardiac arrest is reduced by about ten-percent.
To register for a class or get more information about AEDs, contact your nearest Red Cross chapter or go online to “www.redcross.org“.