On Sunday, May 3 you can change yourself from ‘helpless’ to ‘hero’ by taking 15 minutes out of your day and learning Hands-Only CPR at “Hands for Life Westport Weston Wilton 2015,” a free, tri-town, community-wide Hands-Only CPR and AED training event. The event will take place at the Westport YMCA from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. It is open to all ages and no pre-registration is required.

Why Hands-Only CPR

Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is the largest cause of natural death in the U.S. and is responsible for half of all heart disease deaths. There are approximately 359,400 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the U.S. every year with a mortality rate of 90.5-percent. This loss of life is equivalent to four Boeing 747 airplanes crashing and killing everyone onboard every single day of the year. Administering hands-only CPR helps maintain blood flow to vital organs until emergency medical personnel arrive, and, therefore, increases the chance of survival.

“When someone suffers a cardiac arrest, it is critical that instead of simply waiting for help to arrive, that you become the help. Intervention in the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest is the only way to increase the victim’s chance of survival,” said Nancy Capelle, chairperson of Hands For Life Westport Weston Wilton 2015.

Less than 1-in-4 people who suffer a cardiac arrest outside a hospital setting receive CPR from a bystander, and only about 7-10 percent of cardiac arrest victims survive. In addition, studies show that survival rates fall 10 percent each minute without CPR. Hands-Only CPR has been shown to double or even triple the victim’s chance of survival.

What will be Taught

Hands-Only CPR is CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths, and is recommended for use by people who see an adult suddenly collapse. Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR (CPR that includes breaths) in the first few minutes of an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Conventional CPR may be better than Hands-Only CPR for certain victims, such as infants and children found in cardiac arrest, or victims of drowning or collapse due to breathing problems. According to Capelle, any attempt at CPR is better than no attempt.

Organizers say their goal is to train 2,000 people in hands-only CPR in six hours. In groups of 10 people at a time, participants will receive an overview and general instructions; they will practice compressions under the watchful eyes of trainers and perform Hands-Only CPR on mannequins; and they will receive an AED (automated external defibrillator)  awareness orientation.

“Hands For Life Westport Weston Wilton 2015” is sponsored by Norwalk Hospital, in collaboration with the Westport Weston Wilton Medical Reserve Corps, Westport, Weston and Wilton EMS, Westport Family YMCA, Connecticut Chapter of the American College of Cardiology, American Heart Association, and CERT.

For more information contact Hands for Life Westport Weston Wilton committee chair Nancy Capelle by phone at 203.216.1509 or via email, or visit the event’s website.