Hundreds of people at City Hall were trained to save lives today.
A new Heart Safe program launched by the Kansas City, Kan., Fire Department and the University of Kansas Hospital will put life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation training into the hands of residents throughout the community.
Training will be expanded to the community in the coming months.
Fire Chief John Paul Jones said he hopes to see as many as 50,000 people trained in CPR in an 18-month period in Wyandotte County. The bystander CPR method is a hands-only CPR technique.
Dr. Dennis Allin of KU Hospital said the idea for mass community training came about because of the desire to have the best survivor rate in the country.
While this community has a survivor rate that is already four or five times better than, for example, Chicago, there is room for much improvement, he said.
With more people performing CPR before firefighters or emergency medical technicians arrive, the survival rate could be raised by 40 percent, Dr. Allin said.
Currently less than one-fourth of the patients in Wyandotte County are receiving CPR before emergency crews arrive. “That is an enormous room for improvement,” Dr. Allin said.
And CPR is relatively easy, he said. Most people can learn it in five to seven minutes, although this current program is a 30-minute training session.
Chief Jones said he has heard residents say that they didn’t know what to do when they saw symptoms of a heart attack.
"This empowers the individual residents,” he said.
The UG is not planning to spend very much money, if any, on this effort, he said. It will start by training UG employees, who then will train other UG employees. At one session today, more than 80 people were trained. Other sessions were planned.
After training, the employees will teach other people in the community, he said. The Fire Department already goes out to hundreds of places each year to speak, and this training may be incorporated into that existing program, he said.
“We want to get into the schools,” he said. Also, at some point, maybe this training could be offered at Sporting Park on the JumboTron with thousands of people learning it, he suggested.
Why don’t residents currently use CPR when they see an emergency? Sarah Tufty, in a training session today, said that some of them may not know the symptoms of a heart attack or may not know what to do. Some think the symptoms are not really too bad. Others may think they can transport themselves to the doctor or hospital.
Chief Jones pointed out that people who received immediate CPR when experiencing heart attack symptoms were more likely to recover, return to work later and not be in a vegetative state.
In order for this idea of community training to move ahead, it had to have the support of Chief Jones and the UG officials, Dr. Allin said. Chief Jones said Mayor Reardon and the firefighters union were 100 percent behind the idea.
Reardon was at the event and said that hundreds are being trained today, and the program would reach out to church and other groups to do training. Many will be trained to be the first line of life-saving in the event of a heart attack, he said. The mayor and commissioners are scheduled to receive Heart Safe training at a meeting today.
Heart Safe has been tried in a few other communities and counties, Dr. Allin said, but this is the first time this model of the Fire Department working together with a hospital has been tried on a large scale.
Chief Jones said the CPR training may be of even more use in the future. Technology of smart phones now has been developed to the point where a text message could be sent to anyone within a short walking distance of a cardiac patient. If a person trained in CPR is located quickly by this method, many more lives could be saved, he noted.
Hands-only CPR is just continuous compressions of the chest, using the hands in a palm-down position. This technique does not include mouth-to-mouth breathing.