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Stayin' alive with hands-only CPR

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Greenville Public Works employee Curtis Sharps practices CPR on a dummy during a workshop hosted by Greenville Fire/Rescue to educate workers on how to potentially save lives Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2017.

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Beth Velliquette

Thursday, February 16, 2017

“Well, you can tell by the way I use my walk I'm a woman's man: no time to talk.”

About 15 Greenville Public Works employees learned hands-only CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED) Wednesday so they will know how to save a life.

That workshop and others scheduled to train more than 100 public works employees was set in motion after a public works employee had a cardiac event during Hurricane Matthew and was saved by the intervention of one of his co-workers, according to Rebekah Thurston, life safety educator for Greenville Fire/Rescue.

Thurston and EMS specialist Lee Avery taught one group at the public works building, and one of the first things they learned was that the beat of the Bee Gees’ song, Stayin Alive, is the perfect timer for giving hands-only CPR.

“Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother, you're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.”

Here’s a little secret.

“The song ‘Another One Bites the Dust’ technically will work, but we prefer the other one so you stay in the right mindset,” Thurston said with a laugh.

As the employees went through a quiz that was scored electronically, they learned that 325,000 people go into cardiac arrest each year in the United States.

If hands-only CPR is started within the first four minutes, the patient is four times more likely to survive.

In years past, people were instructed to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and pump a person’s chest, but many people were reluctant to do mouth-to-mouth, and it was discovered that hands-only was effective in maintaining blood flow and sending oxygen throughout the body until rescue personnel arrive and can take over the rescue, she said.

“Life goin' nowhere, somebody help me. Somebody help me, yeah. Life goin' nowhere, somebody help me, yeah.”

Here’s the steps, Thurston said.

First check to see if the person can be awakened by calling out to him or her and shaking or tapping the person.

If there is no one else around, call 911. If someone else is nearby, instruct him or her to call 911 and get the rescue squad on the way.

Then start the chest compressions.

Measure two fingers up from where the ribs end, then intertwine the fingers and press the palm of the bottom hand hard and fast into the chest at a rate of about 100 beats a minute.

Using CPR dummies, the men divided up into groups and practiced their roles.

“Stayin’ Alive” played in the background. “Feel the city breakin' and everybody shakin', and we're stayin' alive, stayin' alive.”

Calvin Parks was one of the first to jump up and volunteer, and as he and others practiced on the dummies, Avery and Thurston offered suggestions or corrections.

“You never know when someone in your family or anybody could pass out,” Parks said. “If you don’t have any training, you’re going to panic.”

After each man practiced on the dummy, Thurston brought out a AED trainer, and Parks and two other men used it on the dummy. Parks attached the pads according to the directions, while the two other men took turns giving the dummy chest compressions.

“It’s basically a paramedic in a box,” Avery said of the AED.

“Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive. Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive.”

Parks was glad to learn hands only CPR saying it might help to save the life of someone he knows.

“Knowing this and knowing what to do, it will help you respond instead of sitting back and not knowing what to do,” Parks said. “It will give the person a chance to live until medical gets there so this is a difference between life and death.”

“Got the wings of heaven on my shoes, I'm a dancin' man and I just can't lose. You know it's all right, it's okay. I'll live to see another day.”

Contact Beth Velliquette at bvelliquette@reflector.com or at 252-329-9566.

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