Sudden cardiac death claims 1,200 lives per day in the United States, an average of nearly one death per minute. The majority of these deaths occur outside the hospital, the result of irreversible damage to the heart and brain that develops within minutes.
Even with the best emergency medical service system, ambulance personnel usually require at least three to four minutes to arrive at the scene. A critical factor in determining survival is the amount of time that elapses prior to the initiation of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). In one study, it was found that immediate bystander-initiated CPR doubled the patient's chances of living.
The ideal situation would be one where large numbers of the general population have been trained to administer CPR. In Seattle, where many individuals have been trained in CPR through a concerted public effort, residents who sustain a cardiac arrest have a better chance of survival.
We can have the same success in Orange County. On Saturday at the UC Irvine campus, "Push For Life," a huge CPR training course, is being offered to the public at no charge. Those of us at the UCI Medical Center emergency department are looking forward to a growing awareness in Orange County that knowing CPR can mean the difference between life and death.
DR. GREGG PANE,
Assistant clinical professor,
UCI Medical Center