This year marks the 50th anniversary of traditional mouth-to-mouth cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It continues to be the preferred method for saving the lives of children and toddlers, as well as victims who have been unconscious for unknown periods of time. But about five years ago, doctors in Arizona began promoting hands-only CPR which eliminates mouth-to-mouth contact but retains chest compressions to keep blood flowing to the brain to keep it alive.
Through a series of happenstance events--including a call to a victim who was receiving proper CPR, but on a soft bed--Teri Giordano, NREMT-P at Cherokee Tribal EMS (NC), realized she wanted to do more to promote CPR to residents in her area.
"I remember leaving that call very frustrated," she says. "I wondered what could have happened if everything had been done correctly."
Giordano also relates a discussion she had with a friend who wanted to do more to promote stroke awareness, and who had a life-changing encounter with a firefighter in San Francisco who was promoting CPR at a storefront event in that city last year. Compounded with exposure to several articles about other agencies hosting CPR training events, Giordano realized residents in her area needed CPR training just as much.
"I figured I had enough signs that I was supposed to start something, and could incorporate stroke awareness," she says. "I realized we needed to do something, and we needed to do it now."
As such, she--along with four other healthcare professionals, including Robin Jones, RN, stroke center coordinator at Mission Memorial Hospital in Asheville, NC; Carolyn Crook, MS, director of heart disease and stroke prevention for Mountain Area Health Education Center; Frank Castelblanco, RN, director of cardiac emergencies at Mission Memorial Hospital in Asheville, NC; and Dana Triplett, RN, Code STEMI Coordinator at Mission Memorial Hospital in Asheville, NC--organized MINUTES MATTER.
The grassroots campaign is focused on educating residents in western North Carolina how to perform hands-only CPR, as well as how to recognize a stroke (utilizing ACT Fast) and the importance of call 9-1-1 promptly.
"Minutes really do matter. That's how we came up with the name for our organization," says Giordano. "With traditional CPR, people are concerned about properly checking pulse and breathing, and they may be hesitant to put their mouth on a stranger's mouth. With hands-only CPR and sudden collapse victims, you keep blood circulating and flowing to the brain to keep it alive. If you initiate CPR right away, it can make a difference."
Giordano's initial goal was to host an event similar to San Francisco's CPR storefront event, but it has evolved into much more.
"We now have a team," she says. "We've already held some events, and many more are planned. We've even received donations for a booth at our State Fair. I've also been in touch with the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association and one of our state representatives who is an SCA survivor. Support for the idea to host events where we teach people hands-only CPR, stroke awareness and 9-1-1 activation has been overwhelming, and we've had a lot of response from EMS agencies in our area."
Giordano is convinced that such public events can make a difference.
"They're a great way to get involved in the public," she says. "And even in this time of budget cuts, these events are great because they don't cost any money. All that is required is asking people if they want to learn CPR, including hands-only CPR, and how to recognize the symptoms of stroke."
With that focus, MINUTES MATTER held its first EMS-sponsored event with WestCare EMS, a division of MedWest Healthcare, on July 30 at a Walmart storefront in Sylva where 76 people were trained. Other events have included a church group block party and sponsorship at a booth at Bele Chere (a festival in Asheville) where more than 300 people were trained. Several other events are planned as well, including booths at the Macon County Fairgrounds in Franklin, the Apple Festival in Hendersonville (sponsored by Pardee Hespital and employee) and at the North Carolina Mountain State Fair in Fletcher. Other events are planned throughout August and September.
"There is so much information and education that is available to the public," she continues. "We take for granted people know CPR techniques. But even with the availability of sources such as the internet, they just aren't getting the message. But in less than five minutes, we can teach people two life-saving techniques.
"EMS used to play such a huge role in public education," she continues. "But we've gotten away from doing events that help get the message out. It's time to get involved again in our communities."
MINUTES MATTER is now supported by the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association, the National Institute for Neurological Disease, Mission Memorial Hospital, RACE, MAHEC, North Carolina State Representative Becky Carney, the North Carolina Office of EMS, CPR Across America, American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, the Brain Attack Coalition, Zoll Medical and many local EMS and fire departments.