Local Health

1/15/2013

CPR program highlights quick action to save lives

By BRITTANY TATE The Brunswick News

Nicole Fairfield has been passionate about saving lives for some time now.

"My mother-in-law passed away in February 2011. She was trained in CPR and so is my father-in-law. However, she suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, and no one was there to help her. She had the warning signs, but no one recognized them," Fairfield said.

That same month, the Coastal Health and Safety Associates was founded, in which Fairfield is the lead instructor.

The local team of professional fire, EMS and aquatics instructors has been educating residents on the importance of safety training. Now, the organization is working to make Glynn County safer for those suffering from cardiovascular-related events.

"HEARTSafe Communities help save lives by improving response and care for cardiac arrest victims," Fairfield said. "The primary goal of these programs is to increase the survival rates from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests and to create better systems of care for cardiac arrest patients. To do this we need to increase bystander CPR response rates, improve CPR performance and shorten the time to defibrillation."

Created in 2002 in New England, HEARTSafe Communities focus on improving the cardiovascular health of victims by enhancing awareness of CPR and Hands-Only CPR and educating the community on automatic external defibrillators. Fairfield says this will save lives and reduce the number of deaths and disabilities associated with cardiac arrest.

Research has found cardiac arrest is the No. 1 killer in the nation, claiming more than 325,000 lives each year. Eighty-eight percent of the attacks are in the home. A lack of medical treatment within the first four to six minutes of an attack can increase the risk of death.

While calling for emergency assistance is a first step to receiving adequate help for a loved one, use of CPR and defibrillation during the first six minutes can save their lives.

In fact, there is a Cardiac Chain of Survival that can help to increase a victim's chance of survival. The steps include early recognition of cardiac arrest and early activation of the emergency response; early CPR; early defibrillation; and early advanced medical care.

Fairfield says skipping a link in the chain can lead to cardiac death.

"I had a woman come to my CPR class one day. She had lost her mother earlier that year from sudden cardiac arrest. This woman witnessed her mother go into cardiac arrest...(but) instead of recognizing it and calling 911, she drove to Glynn Immediate Care," she said. "When she arrived, high-quality CPR was initiated by the doctors, 911 was called, EMS arrived and took over care, and her mother made it to Southeast Georgia Health System and was taken up to the cardiac floor. However, missing the first three links is what caused brain damage. She did not receive early CPR or early defibrillation because step one was missing."

Though the program is focusing on the community as a whole, the American Heart Association and Emergency Cardiac Care for Georgia are trying to get the state to pass a law requiring all high school students to learn CPR before they graduate. This idea suggests the students will carry what they've learned from CPR courses into their adult lives, which will prepare them for CPR-related situations.

Fairfield hopes bringing the program to Glynn County will raise awareness, provide further opportunities to improve cardiovascular health and decrease the death rate.

"I am hoping with education we will have more businesses that have automatic external defibrillator. With more AEDs, we can shorten the time of defibrillation by having it started before EMS arrives," she said. "I don't want anyone to lose a loved one that was not given the chance to make it when we have the skills and ability to save them."

Currently there are 91 HEARTSafe Communities in the U.S.