Pleasant Hills, Pa., council members last week received a gift that could save their lives.
As part of program sponsored by the American Heart Association, Curt Neill, assistant chief of the Baldwin Emergency Medical Services, gave each member a "Family and Friends CPR Anytime Kit," a self-directed, personal cadiopulmonary resuscitation instruction program designed to provide individuals with skills equal to traditional classroom training.
The EMS provides ambulances for residents of Baldwin and Pleasant Hills boroughs.
The American Heart Association is a national association whose mission is to reduce disability and death from cardiovascular diseases and stroke. According to information provided by the group, almost 80 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home and are witnessed by a family member. Less than seven percent of cardiac arrest victims survive because the vast majority of those present at the time don't know how to perform CPR.
"People just don't have the time or make the time to attend a three-hour CPR course," Mr. Neill said.
He said that free training classes provided monthly by the service at its center on One Readshaw Way in Baldwin, but, typically, fewer than a dozen attend each month.
The CPR kit consists of a 22-minute instructional DVD and an inflatable manikin, called Mini Anne. The DVD also provides information on child CPR, choking, automated external defibrillators (AEDs) and how to place an effective emergency call.
"It's an excellent instructional tool and wonderful opportunity to improve the chain of survival," Mr. Neill said.
The Baldwin EMS several years ago gave local libraries with an earlier version of such a CPR kit.
The local EMS unit has 110 kits to distribute as part of a campaign initiated this month by State Sen. Sean Logan, D-Monroeville, and the Allegheny County EMS Council to distribute some 2000 kits in Allegheny and Westmoreland counties.
The AHA is using the kits to help attain a goal of training 20 million rescuers by 2010.
"It's a great way to provide families with life-saving skills," Councilman Jim Funkhouser, chairman of the borough's public safety committee, said.
Although participants in the home CPR course don't receive a course completion card that is given to those completing a certified course, they are still protected under the state's Good Samaritan Law, Mr. Neill said.
"I encourage everyone to learn CPR, so that if need be, you can save the life of a loved one. I believe this program will save many lives," Sen. Logan said in a press release.
While supplies last, residents interested in obtaining the free kit can contact the Baldwin Emergency Services at 412 884-0666. The kits can also be purchased for about $30 through the various chapters of the American Heart Association.
For more on the association, visit www.americanheart.org.Jim McMahon is a freelance writer.