Every day we hear about suddenly someone collapsing from what is described as a massive heart attack
Often these individuals are definitely too young to die. It might be a colleague who was 55 years old and had been well all his life or a woman who thought women were immune from heart disease, thinking it’s a men’s disease.
Every year more than 400,000 people suffer a sudden cardiac arrest. Contrary to the popular lore, sudden cardiac arrest is often not a heart attack but rather a sudden disturbance of the heart rhythm which causes the heart to stop pumping blood. These rhythm disturbances are called ventricular fibrillation. Certainly, a heart attack can produce ventricular fibrillation, but this chaotic rhythm can also develop without a heart attack.
The survival for sudden cardiac arrest in places like Albuquerque or any major city with the exception of Seattle is less than 5%. In Seattle, more than 10 years ago, the community decided they were not going to let these people who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest die.
The key to survival involved creating a seamless emergency medical services system. At the heart of the system were members of the public. These individuals learn the three actions that one must take if someone suddenly collapses in front of them and is unconscious.
The response should be to immediately call 911 or have someone else do it, begin chest compressions to restore circulation and call for an automated external defibrillator (AED).
In New Mexico, with the support of the New Mexico Heart Institute Foundation and KOAT- TV, we have Project Heart Start. It is a program that trains as many individuals in New Mexico as possible to save a life of someone who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest, maybe is having a heart attack or is choking to death. We have trained more than 30,000 people in New Mexico to respond to these emergencies. We want you to become part of this growing community who has taken the Project Heart Start course and learned how to respond.
The course has four components: First, we teach you the new hands-only CPR which begins by recognizing that someone is unconscious and then do three things: begin chest compressions, call 911 and request an AED.
Hands-only CPR is easy because you no longer have to provide mouth-to-mouth breathing. This makes it much more likely that individuals will respond to someone who is in sudden cardiac arrest. The other skills include learning how to save someone who is choking, how to use the AED and how to recognize the signs of a heart attack and what to do.
Hands-only CPR is easy to learn and to remember. Are you trained?
On Saturday, June 15, the Los Alamos Fire Department (LAFD) is offering a free Project Heart Start course at Fuller Lodge. Three sessions will be held starting at 9 a.m., 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Because 70-80% of cardiac arrests occur in the home, it is important to learn CPR. Children as young as elementary school age have provided CPR that saved a family member.
We also teach a hands only CPR class for Los Alamos Public Schools and train 200-300 students annually. LAFD AHA instructors have certified Los Alamos Police Officers in Basic Life Support CPR and bleeding control. Thanks to their efforts, two people have survived who may not have..
This is the sixth year Project Heartstart has been offered to Los Alamos County. Please come to Fuller Lodge to learn to save a life in 30 minutes.