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Cardiac Arrest Survivors, EMS Providers, Join Forces to Promote CPR

Towson, Maryland (June 12, 2013) – On January 28, Dr. David Efron, Director of Trauma and Chief of the Division of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care at Johns Hopkins Hospital's Department of Surgery, came home to find his wife, Anne, unconscious and in cardiac arrest. He called 911 and immediately began CPR until Baltimore County EMS providers arrived.

Today, the Efrons joined Baltimore County Fire, EMS and elected officials at the Franklin Fire Station in Reisterstown to raise awareness of the dangers of sudden cardiac arrest and the importance of immediate use of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and defibrillation in giving victims a chance at survival.

“It’s incredibly rewarding and moving to see people who are here today because someone – a civilian or a first responder – cared enough to learn how to provide CPR and use an AED,” said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz.

Other survivors of cardiac arrest who shared their stories at today’s event include:

  • Ashley Mayse, 17, a Cecil County softball player. In May 2012, she was playing in a game in Baltimore County when she suffered cardiac arrest. Her mother and coach performed CPR.
  • Tom Nowakowski, 39, of Phoenix, Md. Two months ago, he had just arrived at work in Towson when he suffered cardiac arrest. Two co-workers called 911, started CPR and used an AED.

New “Hands Only" CPR Initiative

Also at today’s event, Baltimore County Fire and EMS officials announced a new “hands only” CPR initiative called, “Lend a Hand, Save a Life.”

Hands Only CPR is CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths. It consists of three easy steps:

1. Call 911.
2. Push hard and fast on the center of the chest.
3. If possible, use a portable defibrillator, also known as an AED.

The American Heart Association promotes hands only CPR, especially to civilians who, studies show, are more likely to perform hands only CPR when they see someone go into sudden cardiac arrest.

The Baltimore County Fire Department’s initiative features an online resource, www.baltimorecountymd.gov/handsonlycpr, and training opportunities around the county.

"CPR saves lives, and with the new 'hands only CPR,' it is easier than ever to step up and make a difference in a critical situation," said Baltimore County Council Chair Tom Quirk.

Leading Cause of Death in the U.S.

The first week of June is "National CPR/AED Awareness Week." The Baltimore County Fire Department promotes this special week because use of CPR and AEDs is absolutely essential to preventing deaths from sudden cardiac arrest – the leading cause of death in the U.S. Each year, 350,000 Americans succumb to this condition.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) consists of rescue breathing and chest compressions delivered to cardiac arrest victims. When cardiac arrest occurs, the heart stops pumping blood. CPR can support a small amount of blood flow to the heart and brain to buy time until normal heart function is restored.

Defibrillation sends an electrical current through an erratic heart to restore the normal heart rhythm. The sooner a sudden cardiac arrest patient is defibrillated, the greater the chances of survival.

Local Resources

The Baltimore County Fire-Rescue Academy offers monthly CPR classes, open to the public. In addition, many volunteer fire companies offer CPR training, as does the American Heart Association.

Baltimore County’s public access defibrillation (PAD) program is called “Project Heartbeat.” Project Heartbeat aims to install AEDs in public places and to train businesses, schools and other organizations to use them. Through Project Heartbeat, Baltimore County has installed AEDs in all public schools and county buildings such as county offices and courthouses. We continue to encourage private businesses and organizations to begin a PAD program. To begin an AED program, contact the EMS section at 410-887-4860.