MANATEE -- Ninety percent of Americans who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital do not survive, warns Larry Leinhauser, spokesman for the Florida Department of Health in Manatee County.
But Leinhauser, along with officials with the Manatee County Emergency Medical Services and Manatee Technical College, believe that a new method of cardiopulmonary resuscitation that does not require mouth-to-mouth may improve those odds by motivating more bystanders to become life-savers.
The new method, approved by the American Heart Association, is called "hands-only CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths." It's also perfect for people who would rather not get so personal as mouth-to-mouth with a stranger, says Deputy Chief Jacob Saur of Manatee County Emergency Medical Services.
"In the past, some people have been afraid to do mouth-to-mouth and that's no longer required," Saur said. "As long as you are trained and familiar with hands-only CPR, that is more than sufficient until EMS arrives."
The Florida Department of Health is so enthused by the prospects of more life-saving with the new method that all 67 counties are hosting a free hands-only public lesson day on Sept. 29, Leinhauser said.
"An American Heart Association study showed recently that this CPR doubles and triples the survival chances as long as they start it prior to EMS getting there," Leinhauser said. "We're talking immediately."
In Manatee County, the free lessons are from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 29 in Cantrell Hall at Manatee Technical College, 6305 State Road 70.
"It will be held right in the middle of our building," said Maura Howl of Manatee Technical College. "It will be a wonderful space for lots of people to participate. We are inviting the community, our students and staff, too. We are letting all of our students know that they should know this CPR if they deal with the public."
The college's cafeteria will be open to make things easier, Howl said.
"If people are taking their lunch hour to do this on Sept. 29, we want to let them know we have a variety of food in our cafeteria," Howl added.
Manatee Technical College, which offers EMS classes, will provide some of the teachers and Manatee EMS will provide more, Saur said.
A video will be shown to help educate the trainees.
"As far as my understanding, the entire training will take only 15 or 20 minutes," Leinhauser said. "It's very quick and very valuable."
'Hands-only' to 'Stayin Alive'
The reason hands-only works so well is all about blood flow, Leinhauser said.
Oxygen given by mouth or from a bag is not necessarily as important as circulating the blood through the heart, Leinhauser said.
"So, using hands-only and keeping the blood going has been found to be very successful," Leinhauser said.
Deputy Chief Larry Luh of Manatee EMS recommends using the beat of the 1977 Bee Gees hit, 'Stayin Alive," as hands-only is performed on a victim.
"That disco beat is what you want to keep in your head," Luh said.
The new technique is not recommended to use on a child due to the chest pressure, but if someone sees a teen or adult suddenly collapse at home, work, or in a park, the technique consists of just two steps, Luh said.
"Immediately call 911," Saur said. "Then you want to quickly begin to press on the chest at least 2 inches deep, and you want to be doing it at least 100 times a minute."
Howl and Dr. Priscilla Haflich, assistant director
of Manatee Technical College, said they are proud that the lessons will be on their turf.
"We are pleased to be hosting such a valuable event here at our school," Haflich said.
"We hope the community comes out to support such a worthwhile event."
Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7072 or contact him via Twitter@RichardDymond.