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Even During COVID, Iowans Should Feel Comfortable Knowing CPR

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Thursday, December 23, 2021   

COVID might be disrupting certain holiday plans, but with more people getting together this year, the importance of CPR training is being touted, and Iowa experts say it's a life-saving skill you can safely apply, even during a public health crisis.

Adam Novak, director of continuing education at Mercy College of Health Sciences and a first aid instructor for the American Heart Association, said whether you are at the mall or at home, knowing the signs and techniques can result in better outcomes for someone experiencing cardiac arrest.

One technique he teaches is hands-only CPR.

"Put your hands in the center of the chest and just push hard and fast," Novak advised. "That's the easiest thing to keep in mind and, honestly, the best thing you can do for somebody in need of CPR. "

He pointed out the approach is helpful for bystanders who might be more reluctant about stepping in because of the pandemic. Novak added another fear is getting into legal trouble if you hurt the patient, but he noted all states have protective "good Samaritan" laws for those situations.

In West Des Moines, the Jordan Creek Shopping Mall has a training kiosk for those who want to learn CPR.

Training experts emphasized it is not just for being a helpful bystander in public. With nearly 70% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happening in homes, Novak stressed you are adopting a skill that could save the life of a loved one.

"It takes time for an ambulance to get there," Novak observed. "So, being able to understand that an emergency has happened, calling 911, but then, being able to do the steps and feeling comfortable with doing the steps is going to be the vital aspect if we have a chance at reviving them or not."

He said knowing what to do when first responders cannot get there right away is a big reason why Mercy College emphasizes outreach for training, including the kiosk. As for knowing the signs of trouble, experts say it is often when someone collapses and is unresponsive. If there are no signs of breathing or a pulse, then it's time to call 911 and begin CPR.

Disclosure: American Heart Association of Iowa contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues, Hunger/Food/Nutrition, Smoking Prevention, and Women's Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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