February 21, 2013

Classes help hone parents’ resuscitation skills, confidence

It’s a skill few parents ever think they’ll have to use, but it can be an invaluable, life-saving tool — cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mostly commonly known as CPR.

It’s a skill few parents ever think they’ll have to use, but it can be an invaluable, life-saving tool — cardiopulmonary resuscitation, mostly commonly known as CPR.

Jessica Turner practices CPR techniques at a recent class offered by the Junior League Family Resource Center and the Vanderbilt Resuscitation Program. (photo by Daniel Dubois)

An estimated 70 percent of Americans are not equipped to deliver CPR, yet it increases a person’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest outside the hospital, according to the American Heart Association.

That’s why the Junior League Family Resource Center (FRC) at the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt and the Vanderbilt Resuscitation Program have teamed up to offer a free, monthly CPR class to the community.

“We frequently receive calls at the Family Resource Center from families who wanted to know where they could take CPR classes,” said Adelaide Vienneau, manager for the FRC. “We wanted to offer classes in the FRC that could meet that community need.”

The two-hour, small-class format teaches the American Heart Association’s Family and Friends CPR course. The instructor-led class allows participants to watch a CPR instructional video while practicing on a mannequin. They learn life-saving skills of adult, child and infant CPR as well as relief of choking for victims of all ages.

The class is focused on hands-on skills more than lectures, so attendees are actively participating most of the time. About 20 people take the class a time, and it is open to any person physically capable of performing chest compressions for CPR.

Having not taken CPR since high school, Jessica Turner, a mother of two and also a Vanderbilt employee in Marketing, decided it was time for a refresher course and took one of the recent classes.

“I wanted to reacquaint myself with what to do in a choking situation and feel more confident about CPR for any age,” Turner said. “I think it is wise for anyone to take a class like this periodically. I feel a lot more confident that I would know what to do if someone was choking and/or needed CPR.”

A particular lesson stood out to Turner, leaving her more prepared were a situation to arise. “The lesson that stood out to me was that if you ever need to do first aid for choking on a baby or toddler, you need to take them to the ER even if you get the object out of their mouth,” she said.

Cindy Gough, Basic Life Support (BLS) coordinator for the Resuscitation Program, notes that the American Heart Association estimates that four out of five cardiac arrests, when the heart stops suddenly, happen at home.

“Effective bystander CPR provided immediately can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander,” Gough said.

The class is scheduled to occur about once a month. By word of mouth, it has been gaining in popularity, and there is often a wait list. The class is for informational purposes only and does not offer a certification.

To find out about upcoming CPR classes, to register or to be added to the wait list, visit the Children’s Hospital website at www.childrenshospital.vanderbilt.org/communitycpr.