Travelers learn to save lives

June 4, 2008 3:46:54 PM PDT
More than 325,000 Americans suffer cardiac arrest each year, but only one-third receive life-saving CPR. So now, for the first year Congress has declared this week CPR-AED Awareness week. The Red Cross Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter hit 30th Street station to spread to word and teach people how to save lives.

It's rush hour at 30th street station and as people hustle to work the American Red Cross is trying to get their attention. "Have you ever used a defibrillator," CPR- instructor Jerry Rocker said to a passer-by. The Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter introduced people to CPR and AED's, or automated external defibrillators. When someone collapses from cardiac arrest, the faster CPR is started, and the heart is shocked with an AED, the better the chances of survival.

"It would be nice to be there and be confident that you know what you're doing," said Brian Kenyon, a traveler who stopped to talk with Rocker.

For Greg Johnson, of Lancaster, Wednesday was his first time trying an AED. "It wasn't as hard as I thought it would be and I'm glad I got the opportunity to do it in case a situation arises," he said.

Experts are also spreading the word of a new recommendation this year. Tom Foley, C.E.O. of the Southeastern Pennsylvania Chapter of the Red Cross said even if you don't know CPR, if someone is not breathing and has no pulse, at the very least do chest compressions. "That's moving the blood through the body," he said. "That's giving the person a chance to survive until medics can get there and apply other life-saving techniques."

Foley said to place your hands on the patient's sternum and try to press 100 times per minute.

The goal of the awareness campaign is get more people to sign up for classes to get certified or at least teach more people the basics. Accomplishing those goals means saving more lives. "That's the ultimate reward," said Kenyon. For information about CPR- AED courses, call 1-800-42-CROSS or visit