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New CPR technique eliminates mouth-to-mouth

Becky Campbell • Updated May 24, 2017 at 7:43 PM

Anyone who hasn’t received or renewed their CPR certification in the last few years might be surprised to learn there have been a few changes in the procedure for laypeople. 

John McKinney found out Wednesday when he stopped by a Washington County/Johnson City EMS demonstration table set up at Memorial Park Community Center.

“Is it still 15 and 3?” he asked, referring to the 15 chest compressions and three breaths method of CPR. No, not by a long shot. In fact, the new layperson CPR is hands-only. Paramedic Mike Skowronski said the system removes the possibility of mouth-to-mouth contamination, which could keep a bystander from administering the lifesaving procedure.

“I used to be a manager at a utility company, and I would take my workers through a class every year,” McKinney said. “I think it’s great these guys are out here. They don’t get enough thanks.”

Hands-only CPR basically consists of two steps. First, call 911 when someone is on the ground unresponsive. Next, start chest compressions, with the heel of the hand in the middle of the victim’s chest. The compression rate is 100 beats per minute, which is, appropriately, the same beat as the Bee Gees tune “Staying Alive.”

“They’re surprised at the simplicity of it,” Skowronski said about people who stopped by the demonstration table. He and Paramedic Sgt. Jacob Meehan pulled passers-by in with the promise to take only two minutes of their time. A one-minute video on Skowronski’s tablet, and about a minute of hand-on practice and the participants had the basic knowledge to save a life.

Skowronski said the two-minute version is no substitution for CPR certification, but it will help someone in an emergency until paramedics can get to the scene.

Skowronski and Meehan were doing the demonstration as part of National EMS Week. Paramedics usually have a large-scale demonstration at an area home improvement store to show people some of the aspects of EMS work. This year, however, Skowronski wanted to spread out the demonstrations more and give people an opportunity to learn a life-saving technique.

EMS paramedics will be a these locations for the next four Wednesdays:

  • May 31, Gray library, noon-2 p.m.
  • June 7, Jonesborough Visitors Center, noon-2 p.m.
  • June 14, Johnson City Public Library, 10 a.m.-noon.
  • June 21 Jonesborough library, noon-2 p.m.

EMS is also providing medical information packets for drivers to keep in their vehicles. A yellow sticker goes on the vehicle window as a notice to EMS workers that medical information about the occupants is available in the vehicle’s glove box.

For more information, attend one of the free demonstrations listed above or visit www.wcjcems.org/.

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