By George Barnette
Some of your neighbors gave up their sunny Saturday to learn how to save your life.
They spent the day in a series of American Red Cross courses which taught them how (and when) to perform Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), apply first aid, and use Automatic Electronic Defibrillators (AEDs).
The class was held in the Fellowship Hall of the Blanco United Methodist Church.
The students learned from videos, lectures and demonstrations, but then had to prove their skills and knowledge with their own tests and hands-on exercises with responsive dummies. The Red Cross manikins -- both adults and children -- made for a very realistic test of physical skills.
"One lesson is that CPR is only used on dead people," said instructor George Cofran of Johnson City. "It keeps blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs until the professionals arrive with the ambulance. If the victim is alive -- with a working heart and lungs -- he doesn't need CPR; only people who are already dead need CPR."
Another was that AEDs are brain-savers. When a heart stops pumping, brain cells begin dying immediately...about 10% of the total brain dies every minute. After six minutes, recovery is unlikely. But if someone can start CPR right away to keep the blood flowing, an AED may be able to shock the heart back to a natural rhythm and save the brain from further damage.
The course was sponsored by the Blanco County Disaster Response Group because putting more people out in the community with that knowledge and those skills mean your chances of surviving an accident or sudden illness go up sharply. We think of disasters as major "headline" events, but to the victim, her heart attack is the biggest disaster in the world.
The Group's next training, in November, will be expanding volunteers skills in setting up and operating an emergency shelter for people -- local or distant -- put out of their homes temporarily by disaster.
Anyone interested in joining the Disaster Response Group and learning to help neighbors in need can do so by calling JoAnn Routh at the First United Methodist Church in Johnson City at 868-7414.