EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The El Paso Fire Department is restarting their Hands-Only CPR initiative where they teach El Pasoans how to save a life just by using heart compressions.
According to the American Heart Association, there are 350,000 cardiac arrests a year that happen outside of a hospital. The survival rate is less than 12 percent because many of them go unassisted due to lack of knowledge of CPR.
“Just by doing Hands-On CPR, you can double or triple the chances of that person’s survival,” said Ruben Candelaria, Battalion Chief of Community Risk Reduction at the El Paso Fire Department.
Candelaria said EPFD has been holding free classes that teach how to perform CPR without mouth-to-mouth, which he explained is not always necessary.
With the start of the pandemic, this program had to be put on pause, but Candelaria said they are getting ready to put it back into motion.
The first thing you will learn at the class, said Candelaria, is to call 911 immediately when you come across someone experiencing cardiac arrest.
He explained that the dispatch will give you instructions on what to do next if you are not sure, but after the call, you will start performing CPR.
For Hands-Only CPR, Candelaria said all you need to do is get on your knees next to the person laying down, put your palm in the middle of their chest, interlace your fingers and keep pressing down onto their chest.
The best way to measure the tempo of the compressing is to go off the beat of the Bee Gees hit song “Stayin’ Alive” or Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.”
Candelaria also suggested downloading a free app called Pulse Point that not only gives you the tempo and instructions on how to perform CPR but can alert you if there is anyone close by who is in cardiac arrest.
“Your blood still carries oxygen, even when you go into cardiac arrest, there is oxygen still there, so by providing those compressions, you are circulating that blood and you are preventing permanent damage to the organs,” explained Candelaria.
Once you start CPR, you will have to continue until professional help arrives.
Candelaria said that the process can be tiring, so it’s good to have someone else near you who also knows CPR and can take over when you start feeling drained.