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Wentworth-Douglass urges the public to learn hands-only CPR

As the community continues to adapt to life with COVID-19, Wentworth-Douglass Hospital is urging the public to refamiliarize itself with the life-saving measure of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and learn about hands-only CPR.

Both published news reports and data from the National Library of Medicine indicate that cases of bystander CPR intervention dipped during the COVID-19 pandemic, while cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest events increased. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), about 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrests die without immediate intervention.

Hands-only CPR is a growing technique that doesn’t require a bystander to place their mouth on the person in need of help. It’s safe and simple to learn.

“The American Heart Association has made learning about hands-only CPR very assessable; you can watch a short video from your computer,” said Emily Knight, RN, CPAN, training center coordinator/PALS faculty at Wentworth-Douglass Hospital. “Learning about hands-only CPR is a great place to start and gives an extra layer of safety and control for those who may be apprehensive about preforming CPR.”

According to the AHA, hands-only CPR requires only two steps.
•    Call 911 (to report the medical emergency and get assistance).
•    Push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of a familiar song that has 100 to 120 beats per minute (Song examples include “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees, “Crazy in Love” by Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z, “Hips Don’t Lie” by Shakira” or “Walk the Line” by Johnny Cash. People feel more confident performing hands-only CPR and are more likely to remember the correct rate when trained to the beat of a familiar song).

Following these two steps is critical because any type of CPR, if performed immediately, can double, or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival, according to the AHA. In addition,  the AHA reports that nearly 383,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually, and 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home.

“The data is very telling, learning basic chest compressions from hands-only CPR can be the difference between life and death,” Knight said. “If everyone would just put a little time into learning and reengaging with CPR, we could save many lives.”

The hospital’s call to action comes as the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation prepares to recognize World Restart a Heart Day on October 16. This day is a global initiative to raise awareness of the effectiveness of bystander CPR and focuses on hands-only CPR training and the importance of immediate action to help save more lives from cardiac arrest globally.

The campaign theme, "All citizens of the world can save a life," reinforces the idea that hands-only CPR is simple and effective and can be performed by anyone. 

Sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack, as it occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become rapid or chaotic, which causes the heart to suddenly stop beating, while a heart attack occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is blocked, according to the AHA. In addition, many cardiac arrest victims appear healthy with no known heart disease or other risk factors.

To learn how to do hands-only CPR go to

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