This blog is authored by Danielle Cortes DeVito, who is a paramedic, National CPR instructor and a tireless advocate for CPR.
As a paramedic, I’ve seen firsthand how CPR performed by a bystander can help save the life of a cardiac arrest victim before I arrive at the scene to provide professional help. However, many Americans still don’t perform CPR because they don’t know how to perform the skill or they’re afraid they might hurt the person.
But through the American Heart Association’s Hands-Only CPR training kiosks, I’m encouraged by how these innovative devices are steadily creating a nation of lifesavers who can spring into action if they see a person suffer a cardiac emergency. This week, AHA announced that more than 100,000 people have been trained in Hands-Only CPR through its kiosks. The organization started installing them in 2016 primarily in select U.S. airports thanks to the national support of Anthem Foundation.
This training milestone of 100,000 is incredible and fills me with pride because I was at Chicago O’Hare International Airport where AHA formally launched the kiosk program in Feb. 2016. Since then, it’s been amazing to see how the program has expanded to 29 other locations throughout the U.S. and trained so many people who are now empowered to save a life.
I’ve used the interactive kiosk on many occasions. I can attest to how this device makes it easy to learn Hands-Only CPR and helps the public gain a comfort level with performing the skill. Each kiosk has a touch screen that shows a short instructional video, followed by a practice session and a 30-second test. With the help of a practice manikin, the kiosk gives precise training feedback about the depth and rate of compressions — factors that influence the effectiveness of CPR. The entire training takes about five minutes.
Cardiac arrests occur when the heart suddenly stops beating. Every second counts in this type of cardiac emergency, which is why bystander CPR is so critical until emergency responders arrive. Hands-Only CPR has two easy steps. First, call 9-1-1 and then, push hard and fast in the center of the chest until professional help arrives.
However, less than half of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims receive help from a bystander. Each year, more than 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital, and about 90 percent die. CPR, especially if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival, according to the AHA.
Consider this last statistic: about 70 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in homes. I encourage you to get trained in Hands-Only CPR because you’ll most likely be trying to save the life of someone you love or know if you’re called on to give CPR in an emergency. The kiosks make it easy to learn a life-saving skill. When people can perform chest compressions without the stress of an actual medical emergency, our community benefits. The kiosks help strengthen the chain of survival.