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American Heart Association Wants More Cardiac Arrest Victims 'Stayin Alive'

Chrystal Li |
October 5, 2012 | 11:11 p.m. PDT


Participants learning CPR (Chrystal Li/Neon Tommy).
Participants learning CPR (Chrystal Li/Neon Tommy).
For many people, the Bee Gees’ 1977 song “Stayin’ Alive” conjures the opening scene of the movie Saturday Night Fever--John Travolta strutting down a Brooklyn sidewalk to the song’s funky beat. For hundreds of Santa Clarita workers gathered at the Princess Cruises office Wednesday, the disco classic was the soundtrack for an unexpected activity: CPR training.

Nearly 1,000 people participated in a day-long cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training event hosted by the American Heart Association, the Los Angeles County Fire Department and the Princess Community Foundation.

The unique program used “Stayin’ Alive” to help trainees better learn CPR. At 104 beats per minute, the song provides a near-perfect tempo for effective CPR, which requires at least 100 chest compressions per minute.

“Someone may say, ‘I don’t remember what 100 beats per minute is,’” American Heart Association’s CPR and first aid director Merrilee Sweet said. “But you think of the song ‘Stayin’ Alive’ and you remember [the beat] in your head.”

Sweet said the program’s primary goal was to increase people’s confidence in performing CPR by eliminating as many deterrents as possible. The CPR method taught in the program is “hands-only,” meaning it does not require mouth-to-mouth ventilation.

“Research shows that hands-only is just as effective at saving lives as traditional CPR,” Dr. Franklin Pratt, LA County Fire Department’s executive medical director, said. “People are more likely to do it because it’s fewer steps and some people are intimidated by the physical contact of mouth-to-mouth.”

Pratt said the Fire Department’s involvement in the Santa Clarita event was part of a major initiative to increase the survival rate of victims of sudden cardiac arrest by teaching CPR to the public. He said the department was working on similar training programs with local schools and workplaces, starting with Santa Clarita.

“The goal is to ensure that any time anyone in L.A. County has sudden cardiac arrest, there’s someone who will start CPR right away no matter what time of day, no matter where they are,” he said.

Participants in Wednesday’s event were optimistic about their training.

Alberto Menjivar, a Princess Cruises employee, said the program was “good, simple” and nothing like his previous CPR training. Menjivar said that though a situation requiring CPR would be “kind of scary,” he now felt confident that he could perform the procedure.

Another Princess Cruises employee, Toni Wade, agreed.

“I’ve never received CPR training before, “ Wade said. “But this is so easy. I can do it. I feel like I could certainly step in and not be afraid to help.”

According to the American Heart Association, 400,000 people suffer from sudden cardiac arrest outside a hospital each year. The association says that immediate CPR may double a victim’s chance of survival.

The nine-city “Stayin’ Alive” CPR training tour concludes in San Diego on Oct. 6. The tour will resume in spring 2013.


Reach Contributor Chrystal Li here.



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