Published on September 08, 2015

Lend a Hand, Save a Life: Learn CPR in 15 Minutes

By Thomas Nero, MD

Hands for Life

It’s no secret that a healthy diet and lifestyle are our best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. However, The Institute of Medicine released a new report earlier this year that estimates about 395,000 people suffer cardiac arrest in their homes or other non-hospital settings every year — and less than 6% of them survive. Cardiac arrest is not a heart attack — it's worse. It means the heart abruptly stops beating. CPR can buy critical time if it's started immediately, but the report concludes the nation must take key steps to give victims a better chance at survival.

In 2009 Hands for Life (HFL), a free CPR training event that can teach anyone how to be a life-saver in just 15 minutes was developed. What began as training for a few people at a time has grown significantly over the years. In fact, since its inception nearly 10,000 people in Stamford and surrounding communities have already been trained.

Statistics show that bystander CPR can more than double a person’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest, so this year we are looking to expand on the Hands for Life initiative to train over 10,000 people in compression-only CPR and the use of external defibrillators (AEDs). For those who have had previous CPR training, it’s still a great event to participate in, as it is a skill helped by practice. Events will be held throughout the week of September 21, culminating with a public headline event on Saturday, September 26, at Stamford’s Westhill High School.

The effort comes on the heels of a new statewide curriculum change for students to receive CPR training in health class prior to high school graduation. This curriculum change will go into effect on July 1, 2016.

All you have to do is ask yourself, “if you saw someone you love having a heart attack, wouldn’t you want to know what to do?” I think that would be enough to motivate just about anyone to come to this event.

For more information about Hands for Life or to sign up to become a trainer, visit www.handsforlife.org.