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Unique Holiday Gift Idea

As the holidays roll around, everyone’s looking for that special gift – something meaningful, worthwhile and of great value. Whether you’re shopping for new parents or grandparents, there’s one gift that works for every member of your family: the gift of CPR.

Considering 73.9 percent of adult cardiac arrests happen in the home, chances are your family members could save someone you all know and love. Every second counts in cardiac arrest, if performed immediately, CPR can double or triple the chance of survival from an out of hospital cardiac arrest.

The AHA’s Community Training Kits make a great gift choice, particularly the CPR Anytime program, which allows your gift recipients to learn basic lifesaving skills in about 20 minutes from the comfort and privacy of their own home or workplace.

Have soon-to-be or new parents in your life? Consider the Infant CPR Anytime Training Kits, which makes it possible for anyone to learn how to perform infant CPR and provide infant choking relief. This kit also makes a great gift for grandparents, babysitters, nannies and anyone who wants to learn lifesaving infant CPR and choking relief skills. The kit is co-branded with the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Consider Abby’s story. While in a dressing room trying on clothes, she heard a call come over the store’s radio saying there was someone who didn’t have a pulse and wasn’t breathing. Because she knew CPR, Abby raced to the scene expecting to see an elderly person, but instead found a mother and baby. Abby sprung into action and saved the baby’s life. “You never know when an emergency is going to happen and no one’s going to be there to help. I think anyone could do CPR, could learn that skill. It just gives you a great feeling inside knowing that someone else is living out the rest of their life because of you,” she says.

Another great option is the Adult & Child CPR Anytime Training Kits, which allow anyone to master the basics of adult Hands-Only CPR, child CPR with breaths, adult and child choking relief and general awareness of automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

Justin’s story really drives home the value of this course. On a Friday afternoon, 15-year-old Justin was playing in the backyard with a group of friends when a lacrosse ball hit him on the chest, in the exact location and at the exact millisecond of his heart’s rhythm, causing a condition known as commotio cordis. Thankfully, the kids called for help and a neighbor ran over to start CPR, which kept Justin’s blood circulating to vital organs until paramedics arrived. “This was such a freak accident, it could happen to anyone,” Justin’s mom says. “If our neighbor didn’t know CPR, Justin wouldn’t be here. I encourage everyone to take the time to learn CPR. You could save a life, maybe the life of someone you love.”

The AHA designed both of the kits mentioned in this story as self-directed, 20-minute personal learning programs and as an all-in-one solution that includes everything needed to complete high-quality training anywhere. Skills are taught with the AHA’s research-proven, practice-while-watching technique, which allows participants to practice on a manikin while observing a demonstration of the skills on video. A bilingual (English and Spanish) DVD and user guide come with every kit.

Your gift recipients can refresh their skills as often as needed and even pass along the kit to others once they’re finished with it, so it truly is a gift that keeps on giving.

 

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Be Thankful for Your Family: Thanksgiving Holiday Safety Tips

 

As you get together with family and friends over the Thanksgiving holiday, ensure it’s a happy – and healthy! – time of year filled with positive memories. Here’s how.

Healthy Holiday Swaps in the Kitchen

This season, try the AHA’s five easy swaps in the kitchen. Don’t worry, all the flavor and festivity are still in the mix!

  • Use herbs and spices such as rosemary, rather than salt, on your turkey.
  • Choose lower sodium broth or stock to make gravy.
  • Whip up some mashed potatoes with low-fat or skim milk and soft tub margarine.
  • Season veggies with herbs and bake, grill or steam them – instead of frying.
  • Swap equal parts no-sugar-added applesauce for butter when baking.

Be Prepared for Minor Injuries: Cuts, Scrapes & Burns

With a houseful of rowdy kids or adults packed into a kitchen, you’ll want to keep overall safety top of mind. That means being well-prepared for minor injuries, including cuts, scrapes and burns.

Have a first aid kit on hand. Include adhesive bandages in a variety of sizes along with tape, gauze, latex gloves, antiseptic wipes, hydrogen peroxide, antibiotic ointment and hydrocortisone cream.

Also include some basic over-the-counter medications including ibuprofen, acetaminophen and antihistamines, as well as a thermometer.

Stash an ice pack or two in the freezer, or have the instant version on hand, for those unexpected bumps and bruises.

Take a Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED Course

Did you know that 74 percent of cardiac arrests happen in the home? Wondering what to do with a multigenerational houseful of family in the days before or after Thanksgiving? What better time to take a Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED course than over the holidays when everyone’s in town and together.

Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED is available in two different training methods, blending learning and classroom training. Both are geared toward anyone with little or no medical training who wants to be prepared for an emergency in any setting.

One more option to consider for the family: Heartsaver Virtual, a convenient training kit and app solution allows you the flexibility to take courses and complete a virtual hands-on skills session with an instructor 100% online.

Download the Free AHA CPR & First Aid App

Available for download on Apple Store or Google Play, the AHA has developed an array of apps dedicated to bringing science right into the palm of your hand. Check out the free CPR & First Aid App so you can be prepared to act in an emergency.

The app’s key features include easy-to-follow, step-by-step instructions for adults and children ages 10-plus, so get the kids involved too. Use it to learn CPR and first aid for some of the most common emergencies to occur not just during the holidays, but year round. The course covers choking relief, bleeding and bandaging, heart attack, seizures, Hands-Only CPR, CPR with breaths and much more. The fun and informative format includes video, animations quizzes and games for the whole family.

 

 

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A Heartsaver In the Community

By Gina Mayfield

On a crisp mid-September evening in Forest Lake, Minnesota, Kristina Thill was helping with the annual fall festival at the church where she grew up. After she finished her shift at the kids’ game booth and started chitchatting with a friend, she noticed an elderly church member stumbling out of the building.

“We were like … okay, well, that was kind of weird. He doesn’t really look like he’s doing too well. So we walked over to him and asked if he was okay, and he said thatsomething didn’t feel right. That’s when he collapsed,” Kristina says. She and her friend caught him as he fell to the ground and stopped breathing. They yelled for help and a police officer rushed over and began to administer CPR. At that point, Kristina handed her phone to a bystander and asked them to call 911.

“Because I work at the school and church, I knew where the AED machine was. So I ran and grabbed it,” Kristina says. “When I initially got back to the scene, the police officers stopped CPR to help with the AED. I kind of pushed them back and said, ‘Nope, I’ve been trained. Continue with CPR, and I’ll get him hooked up.’”

Luckily for everyone involved, Kristina had taken a couple of American Heart Association Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED classes from a local provider called Heart & Soul. Her most recent class was just three weeks prior to this event and the instructor, Cindi Gervais, knew to go over where to find the AED, even though some in attendance already knew where to find it.

“I hooked him up to the AED machine, and it said to administer a shock,” Kristina remembers. “We pushed the button and brought him back. He started coming around and talking.”

By that time the EMTs had arrived, assessed the situation and requested a helicopter to take the man to a major hospital. Kristina’s mom works for the church and does all of the hospital and home visits, so she was able to get in touch with the hospital to learn the man had survived. He bounced back quickly and continues to volunteer at the church and school.

The training Kristina received not only gave her the knowledge she needed to play an important part in the rescue, it gave her the confidence she needed to help save a life.

 

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A Trained, Prepared Staff… A Saved Life

By Gina Mayfield

In Calcasieu Parish, Louisiana, sits the Lake Charles plant of LyondellBasell, one of the largest plastics, chemicals and refining companies in the world. On one hot August morning, Safety Engineer Chris Chaisson went about his usual routine. “There was nothing really special what was going on that day. We were just making our rounds through all the security stuff, just checking things, seeing how people were doing and if there were any issues,” he says.

That’s when the call came in: “Man Down!” As Chris raced to the scene, he got word that EMS had already been dispatched, so he started delegating important tasks to those he encountered along his way: Go to the road and flag in the ambulance. Take the keys and open the guard gate. Guide the ambulance to come straight in and back up to the scene.

“As soon as I walked up to the patient, everyone backed away. It was a strange feeling like I had some kind of specialized training that they didn’t,” Chris says. “That was a little different than what I would have expected. I would’ve expected to help, not be expected to lead.”

As the crowd parted, Chris saw a CPR and AED-trained maintenance supervisor using an AED to analyze the heart rhythm of the patient, one of the site’s millwrights responsible for maintaining the plant. The AED provided instructions on how to proceed. About the same time that EMS arrived, so did Dawn Hinton, the on-site nurse practitioner, and Amanda Hebert, the security account manager for the site.

“EMS allowed the three of us to rotate as we continued to provide CPR,” Chris says. “They believed we were doing a good enough job, where they didn’t even take over.”

Eventually, the AED stopped recommending shocks. “We got a good rhythm on him, got him stabilized and into the ambulance,” Dawn says. At the hospital, it was no surprise when doctors determined the patient had gone into cardiac arrest. The next day they implanted stents to correct a left main artery almost 100 percent blocked. After a few days, the hospital released the patient to a very appreciative wife.

“The beautiful thing about this scenario is the amount of response we had,” Chris says. “We probably had a dozen people who were involved overall.”

Left to right: Amanda Hebert, Chris Chaisson, and Dawn Hinton

He offers a valuable reminder. “These medical emergencies can happen anywhere, anytime. Having the ability to respond is everything, like in our situation, as soon as we walked up everyone drew back. They expected us to do something about it. So you might find yourself in a situation in which you’re viewed as the leader of the response. You want to be prepared.”

The plant offers CPR training on a regular basis for its electricians, supervisors and others who want lifesaving education. “The most important thing is having multiple trained, responders on site and an AED that’s readily available,” Chris says. Within less than three minutes, employees had the AED on the patient and were performing CPR.

“Those cycles of giving compressions and resting were so important to us because that allowed us to have the bench strength to recover. Providing quality CPR takes a lot of energy. The ability to have three to five people able to rotate in and out made all the difference,” Chris says. “We had all the help we could ask for. It was a picture perfect response.”

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‘Father’ of CPR: Guy Knickerbocker, Who Helped Pioneer a Lifesaving Technique, Dies at 89

As a graduate student at Johns Hopkins University, Guy Knickerbocker, PhD, was one of three researchers who developed cardiopulmonary resuscitation, also known as  CPR, which has saved countless lives.

Guy Knickerbocker, PhD

He died June 21, 2022 in Narvon, PA. He was 89.

Knickerbocker was an electrical engineer and doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University where he collaborated with William Kouwenhoven, PhD, also an electrical engineer and professor, and James Jude, MD, a cardiac surgeon and resident at The Johns Hopkins Hospital, to develop the prototype of the first portable external defibrillator in 1957.

A year later, Knickerbocker made a crucial observation while working with Kouwenhoven and Jude. He discovered that pressure on the chest during defibrillation experiments in animals produced an arterial wave form and a temporary rise in blood pressure. This observation paved the way toward a new technique, which is now known as CPR.

The team published their research breakthrough on the value of external cardiac massage in providing blood flow to vital organs for people in cardiac arrest in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1960.

“Anyone, anywhere, can now initiate cardiac resuscitative procedures,” the researchers noted in the landmark paper. “All that is needed are two hands.”

From left to right: Drs. James Jude, William Kouwenhoven and Guy Knickerbocker are regarded as the “Fathers of CPR.” 

The brilliant trio would come to be regarded as “the fathers of CPR.”

In the early 1960s, Knickerbocker also collaborated with others to produce the training film titled, “Pulse of Life,” which was viewed by millions and popularized CPR.

Throughout his career, he published over 30 articles about electricity and the human body, according to his obituary.

William Montgomery, MD, FAHA, who serves as the coordinator for the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR), said Knickerbocker will always be remembered for his incredibly important work in the laboratory and in training activities.

Montgomery first met Knickerbocker at an AHA National Conference on CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC) in 1985 when Knickerbocker was among the first group of “Giants” in resuscitation science honored by the AHA for their landmark contributions to CPR and emergency cardiovascular care.

Left to right: Drs. James Jude, Guy Knickerbocker, Peter Safar and James Elam were among the first group of “Giants” in resuscitation science honored by AHA in 1985 at the organization’s National Conference on CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care (ECC).

Montgomery said in recent years, Knickerbocker and his wife, Joan, attended the Citizen CPR Foundation’s Emergency Cardiac Care Conference (ECCU), where he met with cardiac arrest survivors who were saved because of his breakthrough research.

“Those survivors were so happy to meet with him in person and individually and take pictures ‘with the man who invented the technique that saved their lives,’ Montgomery recalled. “These were very warm and emotional meetings and Guy was always very gracious with everyone.”

It was during the ECCU events where Dianne Atkins, MD, chair of the AHA ECC Committee, would meet with Knickerbocker.

“He was always a very pleasant man and willing to have his picture taken with everyone who asked,” Atkins remembered.  “He seemed quite humble about his accomplishments with respect to CPR, but also was quietly proud of them.”

Atkins said it is now known that immediate CPR, usually delivered by a lay rescuer, is a primary determinant of survival with good functional outcome. Yet, she said less than 50% of patients in cardiac arrest in the U.S. receive CPR before EMS arrives.

Dianne Atkins meets with Guy Knickerbocker at the ECCU event in 2017.

“The AHA and the ECC need to commit to better understanding how to engage the lay public in understanding the need for CPR, improve the percentage  of those who receive lay rescuer CPR and to ensure that our teaching methods are the most effective for providing high-quality CPR,” she said.

 

Knickerbocker and his research team fundamentally changed the way in which patients with cardiac arrest are treated, said Comilla Sasson, MD, vice president of ECC Science and Innovation at AHA. To continue his legacy, she said that the AHA is committed to teaching CPR to everyone.

“The American Heart Association is dedicated to making sure every person knows how to perform CPR, and can help save a life,” Sasson said. “And that all people, regardless of where they live or what healthcare system they are treated in, will have an equitable chance for surviving a cardiac arrest event.”

Another major way that Knickerbocker’s legacy can endure is for AHA and ILCOR to continue to support innovative research, said Robert Neumar, MD, who co-chairs ILCOR.

“We need to  advocate for greater investment in resuscitation science and expand the pipeline of young scientists entering the field,” Neumar said.

Montgomery said Knickerbocker will always be remembered as being one of the original scientists and investigators that discovered modern CPR as we know it today.

“Even though he has passed, he will aways live in the hearts and minds of all providers of CPR and survivors as a ‘Giant’ in resuscitation and the person responsible for discovering the technique that ‘saved my life,’ Montgomery said.