Girdwood Fire Department highlights importance of bystander CPR

Girdwood Fire Department highlights importance of bystander CPR
Published: Jan. 16, 2023 at 8:09 AM AKST
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GIRDWOOD, Alaska (KTUU) - With many rural areas of Alaska miles away from the nearest hospital, CPR — short for cardiopulmonary resuscitation — or chest compressions can be critical in saving a life.

The Girdwood Fire Department used a demonstration Sunday to highlight the effectiveness of CPR and offered tips and guidance for individuals who might need to use it.

“Bystander CPR has been shown through numerous studies and cases across the nation to drastically improve the chances of survival,” Basic Life Support provider Stuart Parry said. “In Girdwood, we are often away from definitive care. So it is really important that we have that bystander CPR to start things off.”

With the drive from Girdwood to Anchorage taking anywhere from 40 minutes or more, based on conditions, the time to act quickly is even more imperative, even if the person doing CPR isn’t confident in their abilities.

Fire officials say there are three key principles to look for in determining if someone might need CPR:

  • Are they are responsive?
  • Are they breathing?
  • Do they have a pulse?

If the answer is no to all three, Girdwood fire officials say do not hesitate to jump right into doing chest compressions.

Advance Life Support staff member Marco Rivera said that any compressions are better than no compressions, even if the person is performing them wrong.

“The chances of us getting somebody back with long-term positive health outcomes, as well as negligible to minimal neurological deficit, are severely diminished, so the faster you can start those resuscitative efforts, the better for that individual,” Rivera said.

Compressions are shown to be the most effective part of CPR, even for those uncomfortable performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, according to life support staff member Dylan Robinson.

“So you want to keep just doing continuous compressions, and hopefully the other person will bring the (automated external defibrillator),” Robinson said.

Robertson said it is crucial to ask someone nearby to call 911 or grab a defibrillator (AED) while delivering compressions.

Girdwood Fire Department member Jack Vice said the good thing about most AEDs is that the instructions will walk the user through every step.

The AED will then evaluate the heart rhythm and will give a “clear” alert when it’s ready to deliver a shock. After the shock, if there’s still no response, continue CPR until first responders arrive.

There are classes usually held by the fire department and through different community centers for learning CPR. The Girdwood Fire Department encourages everyone to take a class.