West Licking Joint Fire District officials want to train as many people as possible in CPR and similar lifesaving actions.

West Licking Joint Fire District officials want to train as many people as possible in CPR and similar lifesaving actions.

To that end, the fire district is providing instruction to local government officials and business leaders and will offer free CPR classes to residents early next month.

Since 2013, West Licking firefighters have treated 39 people for cardiac arrest and nine survived, said Kate Earley, the district's fire-prevention officer.

That works out to a 23 percent survival rate.

Nationally, 359,400 cardiac arrests were recorded outside of hospitals in 2013 and 9.5 percent of those people survived during a 12-month period, according to the American Heart Association's website.

"We are a little above the national average and our goal is to push that forward," Earley said. "We'd like our statistics to be even better."

She said the district's statistics count only cardiac arrests from an internal cause, not situations in which something else happens, such as a drug overdose or a car accident.

"The more people we train and educate on CPR, we believe our results will be better," Earley said.

Earley said people who can react immediately to perform CPR when a person goes into cardiac arrest greatly improve the chance of survival.

"We have been increasing our numbers every year by teaching CPR in the community and we do have people certified," she said. "Our goal is to have all businesses in the community have someone there who knows CPR."

The district kicked off its campaign to improve the local survival rates last week.

Earley said the district started with local government officials, who have access to automated external defibrillators.

AEDs are portable electronic devices that can help the heart return to a normal rhythm using electric shocks. They can be operated by people without formal training, according to the American Heart Association's website.

The fire district is trying to put together a database of businesses that have AEDs.

Earley said the district would continue the campaign into June by helping local businesses without AEDs apply for grants.

CPR and AED training will continue through June with training for law-enforcement officials and road crews, Earley said.

Free CPR classes also will be offered to residents.

CPR classes typically cost $5. Earley said the week of June 1-5, the district would offer 10 classes for free.

Classes will be limited to 12 participants . Registration is required online at ashilearning.com/westlickingfirecpr or westlickingfire.org, or by calling 740-927-8600.

CPR certification lasts for two years and can be renewed by taking a class, which includes a test, Earley said.

The fire district typically trains 400 people on CPR and the use of AEDs annually, according to a release from the fire district.

The West Licking Joint Fire District serves Pataskala, Kirkersville and portions of Reynoldsburg and Etna, Harrison and Jersey townships.