By Marisa Helms
On a typical Saturday last May, 14-year-old Jesse Galloway discovered that he was able to perform a truly heroic act.
Jesse was hanging out at home with his dad, Tim Galloway, after returning from a high school softball game. Tim, a 45 year-old, 200-pound construction worker, had been complaining of severe heartburn all day that just kept getting worse.
Tim’s symptoms were strange and confusing. There was the heartburn, then his right elbow and wrist went numb, and then his throat became painfully sore and scratchy.
Then something terrible happened. Tim became short of breath, his eyes rolled to the back of his head, and he went unconscious. That’s when Jesse sprang into action and began vigorously pumping his dad’s chest.
“I didn’t know he was having a heart attack,” Jesse recalls recently. “I wasn’t thinking. I went on auto-pilot. I just had this feeling that something was wrong.”
Jesse’s mom called 911 and for about four or five minutes, Jesse kept pumping his dad’s chest with all his strength until the paramedics arrived and treated Tim for sudden cardiac arrest.
Jesse’s quick thinking and skills surprised everyone in the Galloway family. Nobody knew that just four months prior to Tim’s heart attack, Jesse had received training in a simplified technique of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) called hands-only CPR. The training was part of a program the City of Woodbury (population 63,000) started last year.
Woodbury joins CPR movement
The Galloways’ story dramatically illustrates why CPR training was designed in the first place: to empower the average citizen to save a life. And many cities in Minnesota are joining a movement to train as many people as possible in hands-only CPR as a way to improve health outcomes.
Woodbury launched its very successful “Take Heart Woodbury” CPR public health campaign in February 2012. The initiative’s lofty aim was to provide ___________________________________________________ “Take Heart Woodbury” organizers, J.B. Guiton and Angela Kain Photo by Lainie Steffen ___________________________________________________
free, hands-only CPR training to 10 percent of Woodbury’s population—or nearly 7,000 people—over the course of just one year.
“I’m the nut case who came up with that goal,” says J.B. Guiton, facetiously. Guiton is Woodbury’s commander of Emergency Management Services.
Woodbury’s Take Heart campaign was designed with assistance from a statewide coalition called Heart Safe Communities, which awards an official “Heart Safe” designation to municipalities that train large numbers of residents in the relatively new hands-only CPR technique.
Hands-only CPR emphasizes chest compressions over the mouth-to-mouth method of conventional CPR for sudden cardiac arrest. It is considered just as effective as conventional CPR, but takes just 15 to 30 minutes to learn, and can “double or even triple a victim’s chance of survival,” according to American Heart Association statistics.
Guiton knew his goal of 10 percent would be tough to achieve in just one year.
But he also believed that reaching the goal would significantly benefit the thousands of people who live, work, or recreate in Woodbury.
“Ten percent is the ‘tipping point’ for community involvement,” says Guiton. “There’s a lot of research that shows if 10 percent of a community is trained in CPR, the chances of surviving cardiac arrest [in that community] increases. And what I’ve experienced is once people learn CPR, they are more likely to act. It gives them just enough confidence to call 911 even in other situations like choking or a broken leg.”
Woodbury reached its 10 percent goal by February 2013, and today more than 8,000 residents have been trained in hands-only CPR. The program was the winner of a League of Minnesota Cities 2013 City of Excellence Award.
Guiton credits strong community partnerships and the hard work and creativity of his public safety staff for the success of the Take Heart Woodbury campaign.
Stayin’ Alive in Woodbury
Angela Kain, a paid on-call emergency medical technician in Woodbury, directed the educational component of the program __________________________________ Left: Angela Kain addresses
participants during a recent
hands-only CPR training.
Photo by Lainie Steffen __________________________________
and does most of the training.
She says despite her optimism and enthusiasm, it took some time to refine the training sessions and to create the right message that city staff, council, and community leaders would be comfortable with.
“The first 2,000 trainings were really hard to get,” says Kain, who instinctively knew she had to switch things up if Woodbury was to meet its goal. She realized she had to meet more people where they were, instead of trying to convene classrooms full of people to train.
During her research on how to implement the Take Heart Woodbury program, Kain came across the American Heart Association’s recommendation to teach hands-only CPR to the rhythm of the Bee Gees 1970s disco hit, “Stayin’ Alive.”
“‘Stayin’ Alive’ has more than 100 beats per minute, which is the rate you should push on the chest during CPR,” instructs an American Heart Association fact sheet.
Kain took the “Stayin’ Alive” recommendation and ran with it. She even had Woodbury’s graphics department create a float showcasing a character she created called “Disco Dan.”
She grabbed the Disco Dan float, cranked up the Bee Gees anthem, and took Woodbury’s CPR training on the road. “I took it out to where groups naturally congregate: Woodbury Days, school events, ballgames,” says Kain. “And I shortened the message to just the main points to keep it fun. It was effective. It took away the stigma of formality.”
During the holidays, Kain took the training to shoppers waiting in line for Black Friday sales. She and her colleagues put manikins on a moving table and rolled up and down lines outside stores so shoppers wouldn’t lose their place in line. Many shoppers chose to spend 15 minutes of their time that day to learn the life-saving technique.
Kain says she was out in the neighborhoods so frequently, people started expecting to see her. She built momentum over several months, training more and more people in hands-only CPR.
Guiton also points to community partnerships as essential to the success of the Take Heart Woodbury campaign. For example, city staff worked with volunteers from local businesses and churches, the Girl Scouts, Globe University students and staff, the YMCA, and the local school district.
________________________________________________ Woodbury EMT Angela Kain shows a
trainee how to use an automated external
defibrillator during a CPR class.
Photo by Lainie Steffen ________________________________________________
Woodbury Public Safety Spokeswoman Michelle Okada says partnering with volunteers and other supporting organizations enabled the city to keep its costs down while still accomplishing critical marketing and training tasks.
The total cost to the City of Woodbury for the program is estimated at approximately $12,000, or $1.75 per trained participant, according to Okada. She adds that a majority of the supplies used for the trainings (totaling about $3,000), including many CPR manikins, will remain in use for future hands-only CPR and first aid training in and around Woodbury.
Heart Safe Communities
In May, Woodbury received its official “Heart Safe” designation from Heart Safe Communities, a program administered by the Minnesota Department of Health, the American Heart Association, and the Minnesota Sudden Cardiac Arrest Survivors Network.
The program is a statewide educational partnership that also includes Allina Health, the Minnesota Ambulance Association, the Minnesota Resuscitation Consortium, and others. Any city, county, or organization in Minnesota can participate in the program. To date, 19 Minnesota cities have received the Heart Safe designation.
“Nationwide, the survival rate of sudden cardiac arrest is 5 to 7 percent,” says Katie Tewalt, supervisor of Heart Safe Communities at Allina Health. “Some new data collection in Minnesota shows our survival rate is closer to 16 percent and going up. It’s because more people are learning CPR, and because there is increased access to AEDs [automated external defibrillators].”
A lot of heroes out there
Jesse Galloway, the teenager who saved his dad’s life last May, says his father has a new outlook on life, and that his whole family will be signing up for hands-only CPR training.
“I learned that even if you’re scared, you can have confidence in what you’re doing,” says Jesse. “Even trying a little bit [of CPR] could be the difference between life and death.”
Kain, who gave Jesse his CPR training, calls him a “very special kid,” and agrees that when it comes to CPR, any attempt is better than nothing. Her message: anybody can save a life like Jesse did, if they take just 15 to 30 minutes to learn CPR.
“There are a lot of heroes out there,” Kain says. “They just don’t know it yet.”
Marisa Helms is a freelance writer based in Minneapolis.
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