Library patrons learn life-saving CPR skills

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Curt Yeomans


Who knew the Bee Gees could help save lives through their disco anthem, "Staying Alive?" During a free Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) certification course at the headquarters branch of the Clayton County Library System, on Tuesday, American Heart Association CPR Instructor Denise Holiday sang the song to her pupils, while they practiced chest compressions. She told them it was to help them remember the right rhythm with which to deliver the compressions.

"Ah! Ah! Ah! Ah! Staying Alive! Staying Alive!" Holiday sang as she clapped her hands, and her students practiced pumping the chests of the CPR mannequins.

Twenty local residents participated in the class, which was a full class, but Managing Librarian Sherry Turner said more classes will have to be offered soon. There was a high demand for the class this time, she said, and a waiting list of 100 people who had to be turned away, because of space limitations.

"The other people, we kept their names, and telephone numbers, and told them we'd let them know when the next class will be held," Turner said. "To get everyone, we'd have to offer multiple classes."

The participants in the class held on Tuesday learned the steps for providing the traditional method of CPR, which includes five sets of two breaths and 30 compressions, as well as the newer "hands only" method, which involves just giving 100 chest compressions. The participants also learned how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

During the AED training, Holiday changed scenarios for each group that came up to practice using the device. The scenarios included dealing with a man with a hairy chest, and a person with a pacemaker. Yet another group had to consider how they would help someone who had just been pulled from a body of water.

"The biggest weakness a lot of people have" when they begin a CPR course "is just knowing what to do, and overcoming their fear that they will somehow mess up," Holiday said. "Therefore, I try to make it as real for them as possible."

She said the steps for providing CPR, in the traditional sense, include:

* Doing a "tap and shout," which is where the person giving CPR taps the seemingly unconscious person on the shoulders, and shouts "Hey! Are you OK?"

* Directing a person to then call 9-1-1.

* Checking to see if the person, who needs CPR, is breathing.

* Doing five sets of breaths and chest compressions, with each set consisting of two breaths and 30 chest compressions.

* Checking again to see if the person has begun breathing.

* Repeating the breaths and chest compressions, if necessary.

Holiday also said there is little time to wait to begin CPR, after a person becomes unconscious. She added that it is key to quickly begin the chest compressions, which helps the heart pump oxygen to the brain. "It takes four to six minutes before the brain begins to die, if it doesn't get oxygen," she said.

At the end of the class, the CPR instructor who assisted Holiday, Monica Cesar, announced to all of the participants that they are now certified to give CPR. For Lovejoy resident, Angie Morgan, that came as good news, since this was the first time she had ever gotten CPR certification. Morgan said she is applying for a job at a Hampton daycare center, and decided it would be a good idea to get the certification before she began working with children.

"I'd be working around infants and toddlers, so you never know what's going to happen to them," Morgan said. "In an event of an emergency, it's always good to know CPR. This feels great [to get the certification]. That's one goal accomplished."

Several other participants said they signed up for it because it provided them with an opportunity to renew their certification for another two years. McDonough resident, Twaina Gibson, said she felt it was important to renew her certification, because she is the mother of three children, and she also works with children as a substitute teacher in the Henry County School System. She said it has been two years since her previous certification expired, but she added that she's had CPR certification since she was in high school.

"I had to use it once, on my mom, so I know how important it is to know what to do when a person might need you to save them," Gibson said.

Peg Lewis, of Jonesboro, said she was certified six years ago, and there have been some changes since then. The main changes, she said, are the addition of AED training, and the fact that CPR used to be taught as sets of one breath for every 15 chest compressions. Overall, however, Lewis said she felt renewing her certification was the responsible thing to do.

"When I was certified before, I didn't really have to use CPR on anyone, but in the event I have an opportunity, I wanted to be certified, to do it as a good Samaritan," Lewis said.