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Being able to help in a medical emergency

by: Elizabeth Ussher Groff Ann Steigerwald looks on, as Gavin Carpenter practices using an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED), at a recent PP&R first aid training for Woodstock Community Center volunteers.

If you could help someone who is in trouble - someone who has suddenly become unconscious, is bleeding, choking, suffering from an accident or possible spinal cord injury - it is possible that you would save that person's life.

Being prepared with the latest CPR/First Aid training can give you more confidence, and make your help more effective.

On Sunday afternoon, June 26th, nine volunteers who help keep the Woodstock Community Center (WCC) open and well maintained were refreshed and updated on their CPR/First Aid skills, in a class given by Portland Parks and Recreation at the center.

Lonnie Port, Chairperson of the Friends of the Woodstock Community Center, arranged the training. Steve Pixley, a PP and R Program Coordinator, was the instructor.

'If we can keep the blood flowing to the brain, it makes for a better chance of survival until professional help arrives,' Pixley commented, as an introduction to a demonstration of how to do chest compressions. In keeping with updated information, participants learned that one hundred chest compressions a minute - given in groups of thirty, interspersed with one breath - are advised.

Critical first steps are:

• Recognizing an emergency;

• Identifying hazards, and ensuring personal safety;

• Deciding how to help.

Sometimes people faced with an emergency feel overwhelmed, and just don't know what to do. Calling 9-1-1 is an obvious starting point, if victims are unresponsive, if serious injury or illness is obvious, or if the severity of a person's condition is unclear. However, training can prepare the bystander to help until the EMTs arrive.

At the WCC, participants watched videotaped segments of emergencies and responses, and practiced CPR techniques on dummies. They then learned how to use an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) on victims of sudden cardiac arrest. An AED is a small, portable, computerized box that is often kept in plain view in public and private buildings.

'An AED is so simple to operate that someone without training can do it,' assured Pixley. On the AED, a computerized voice, lights and screen instructions provide the basic steps of how to shock a person's heart back to normal rhythm, if needed.

On this particular Sunday afternoon, participants also learned First Aid guidelines and techniques for bleeding control, shock mitigation, and rescue from choking.

Pixley says that Parks and Recreation swim instructors and lifeguards, as well as other staff, are provided frequent reviews of the latest CPR and First Aid techniques. In fact, during his sixteen years with PP and R, he knows of four instances when AEDs have even saved the lives of PP and R staff!

If you would like to have this kind of training, contact the Oregon Red Cross at 503/284-1234, or go online to: www.oregonredcross.org .