Teaching cardiopulmonary resuscitation to as many community members as possible is the goal of "Community CPR Day" May 18 at Pickerington High School Central, 300 Opportunity Way.
The free event is sponsored by the Gordon B. Snider Cardiovascular Institute at Fairfield Medical Center and the Snider Community Heart Watch.
A full CPR certification class, lasting three to four hours, will be held from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. A "hands-on" CPR training will also be conducted from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., in half-hour increments.
Bob Williams, supervisor of the cardiac catheterization lab at Fairfield Medical Center, said it is imperative area residents get educated about administering either CPR or the abbreviated hands-on shortened version for the simple reason that "time is of the essence."
"Within four minutes (of a cardiac arrest) there is a change in brain activity because of a lack of oxygen," Williams said.
"It is important to recognize the victim needs help and to start compression right away," he said, adding that "every minute that goes by without CPR, survival goes down by 10 percent."
Williams said the compression method of CPR has proven just as effective as the mouth-to-mouth procedure.
"People don't need to feel they're cheating a victim by not doing mouth to mouth," Williams said.
He said cardiac arrest is the No. 1 reason for death in the United States, with over 400,000 deaths a year.
People that experience cardiac arrest often do so in the presence of others, Williams said.
Thus, a person that can take action to help save a life may very well be a neighbor, co-worker or a grand-child, Williams said.
He said dispelling the fear that some people have about administering CPR plays a large role in the training because any apprehension about what to do during a cardiac arrest can waste time and cost lives.
Williams said that is why it is equally important to have young people trained in CPR.
"Our goal is to get more people trained," he said.
"Since Jan. 1 of this year, we've trained over 1,200 students. By the time school ends, 3,000 students will be trained in CPR in Pickerington."
Williams said communities across the nation that have implemented CPR training have increased survival rates "30 to 40 percent."
"I think communities should be able to get up to 50 percent,"Williams said.
To achieve that end, Williams said community involvement is paramount. Providing the CPR training for free has helped boost numbers, especially because many other CPR training classes cost money.
"We're trying to remove the barriers, to make classes fast, expedient and free," he said "Cost is a big barrier."
Williams said a substantial number of participants are required to have a two-year CPR certification, such as coaches, lifeguards and babysitters.
"This is a good opportunity for them to save 30 to 50 bucks," Williams said.
To register for Community CPR Day, call 740-689-6893. Prior registration is recommended, however, walk-ins will be accepted pending availability.
The training will also take place on the same date and times listed above at the Fairfield Medical Center, 401 Ewing St., Lancaster.