NORTHFIELD, Minn. - An ambitious program designed to keep blood-pumping throughout the Carleton College campus was launched Wednesday morning.
650 staff and students, including most of the incoming freshman class, participated in a CPR training event.
The goal of the program is to get as close to 100 percent of the college community armed with CPR and AED (portable defibrillator) training.
The college has 16 AEDs around the campus. The hour-long event was staged in the vast space of the school's recreation center.
Plastic CPR mannequins and AED devices were purchased with a $9,000 grant from the Minnesota Resuscitation Consortium to Northfield Hospital and Carleton College. The students heard from 3 cardiac arrest survivors before trying their own hands on the mannequins.
"I was very fortunate," Chris Heiman, 55, of Randolph told the students. "My husband is the Fire Chief of Randolph/Hampton Fire Department and he did CPR on me."
Heiman collapsed at home at the age of 43. Ben Pecholt, 27, of Minneapolis, suffered his cardiac event just six months ago.
"I was at my sister's house. We were playing a board game. I just fell over, passed out and my heart stopped. My sister and a friend there did CPR on me," he said.
Most dramatic for the freshman was the story of Jamie LaLonde, 21, of Bloomington. LaLonde had her medical emergency at the same age as most of the students. She was just 18.
"I was working at the Mall of America and I just collapsed. Mall security did CPR and Bloomington police shocked me with an AED twice. I was transferred to a hospital where I was in a coma for 2 days. (I) woke up, no brain damage, no answers why it happened to me," she said.
The training was assisted by youngsters from the Emergency Medical Services Explorer Post 3300. The post is a hands-on, career-exploring experience for young people between the ages of 14-20. It is a division of the Boy Scouts of America.
Under the guidance of working EMTs and paramedics, the Carleton students pressed on the plastic chests of the mannequins in the rhythm of disco music and handclaps by the paramedics. For many, it was a new experience. For others, like John Blake, 19, of Minneapolis, minimal CPR training was a dim memory.
"I was like in Cub Scouts back in middle school and I did a little bit of CPR then, but I did not remember any of it," said Blake. "This was good. I mean if somebody was passed out and dying, now I know how to save their life, maybe, or, at least, prolong their death."
Tyler Schuetz, 21, of Tustin, California, found the training an excellent refresher course.
"I learned a lot about doing only hands-only CPR. I have been previously CPR-trained in breathing and hands compressions and so, it was interesting to learn that the most important part is just doing compressions," he said.
Schuetz said that the students were told they should continue doing CPR until help arrives. That advice underlined a new study of more than 60,000 patients, published in the Lancet British Medical journal.
The study indicated that lives could be saved if physicians in hospitals would extend the use of CPR for about 9 minutes beyond the point at which they would normally stop. The report in Lancet indicated that more patients can revive and recover with minimal brain damage.
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