Tomorrow’s CPR Heroes Readied For Action

Thomas MacMillan PhotoDays after passers-by used CPR to save the lives of two New Haveners, Mufid Bohorquez leaned over another patient, listening for the cracking of ribs as he pressed on the chest.

Bohorquez (pictured) wasn’t at the scene of an accident. His patient wasn’t a real person in cardiac arrest, but a practice dummy on a table in City Hall.

Bohorquez was a participant in AMR’s 2014 World CPR challenge in City Hall, an effort by the emergency ambulance response company to train as many people in compression-only CPR (cardiopulminary resuscitation), a technique for keeping someone’s blood circulating when her heart stops.

Civilians happened to have deployed that technique successfully at least twice in the last week, said Assistant Fire Chief Ralph Black. Once at Yale graduation and once on Chapel street, passersby initiated CPR on a person in distress, saving a life in both cases, Black said.

Then on Wednesday an already scheduled event took place to enable other civilians to come to similar rescues in the future. Between 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., AMR staff, firefighters, and cops were deployed in City Hall’s first-floor atrium, poised near practice dummies laid out on the floor and ready to train.

“32 is the magic number,” said R.J. Conners (pictured), an AMR EMT working as a trainer. A responder should give 32 chest compressions between checking for a pulse, he said.

Standard civilian CPR has been simplified, he said, to increase the number of people willing to do it. The protocol no longer includes mouth-to-mouth breathing, because people were reluctant to do it, and because experts found that there’s enough oxygen in the blood for a few minutes even without assisted breathing.

The most important thing is to keep the blood circulating during the three to five minutes it takes for emergency responders to arrive, Conners said.

The new simplified CPR process has just three steps:

• Check for responsiveness. Feel for a pulse.

• If the person doesn’t respond and you don’t feel a pulse, call 911.

• Begin chest compressions. Put one hand over the other and interlace your fingers. Place your hands in the center of the chest and press down hard, 32 times. Then feel for a pulse and continue.

On the dummies, a click signals the proper depth and force of compressions. Conners said CPR is likely to crack some ribs, a small price to pay for a life saved.

Charles Babson, AMR’s general manager for eastern Connecticut, said he’s aiming to train 7,500 people in CPR in his region. Conners said New Haven County’s “spontaneous save rate” for CPR patients is 34 percent, meaning that the pulse returns in about one in three people. That’s better than the national average of 23 percent.

Bohorquez, a graphic designer for New Haven’s Project Storefronts, said he stopped for a CPR refresher because “it’s always good to have this current. Most people don’t know how to do this.”

Velma George (at right in photo), who works for City Hall’s Livable City Initiative, stopped by for training with firefighter Justin McCarthy (at left in photo).

“I though it’d be good to do a quick refresher,” she said.

Asked if she’s ever had to use CPR, she replied, “No, praise God.”

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