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Steamboat Fire Rescue teaches the basics of CPR to 25 people

Brian Arel practices CPR on a dummy at the Steamboat Springs Community Center Thursday night.
Staff photo

— Two weeks after a pair of Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue emergency responders used the Heimlich maneuver to revive a woman who had slipped into unconsciousness at a local restaurant, 25 people turned out at the community center Dec. 16 to learn the basics of administering cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the Heimlich maneuver.

Fire Rescue’s Paul Gilbertson and Tony DeRisio were dining with their wives at the restaurant and were in the right place at the right time to save an elderly woman’s life Nov. 30. Aware of the notoriety their colleagues’ life-saving efforts generated, Fire Rescue Public Education Coordinator Troy Kuhl and first responder John Rockwood led the exercise Wednesday night.

Rockwood didn’t pull any punches. If you have to perform CPR on an infant (two fingers for babies young than 1 year), he said be prepared for the worst day of your life.



The good news is that you can walk quickly in the direction of help while holding an infant in the crook of one arm and compressing its heart with the other hand. The bad news is you may have to wrest the limp infant from the arms of an hysterical parent.

“Be prepared if you are going to get involved,” he said. “You may have to be aggressive about taking the baby from a parent who doesn’t know CPR.”



For people who have had CPR training in the past, things may have evolved, Steamboat Springs Fire Chief Mel Stewart told the gathering. The emphasis now is on beginning heart compressions as soon as possible, with less emphasis on pre-determining if there are any vital signs, or even breathing into a patient’s lungs.

If you are alone, call 911 first and put them on speaker phone. If there is another person available, first confirm that your location is safe and ask the victim if they are okay. If there’s no response, call for help and ask that other person to call 911. Begin chest compressions as soon as possible

“We’ve really gotten away from asking the lay public to try to find a pulse,” Stewart said. “If they are not showing signs of life, the chance (of reviving them) goes down about 20 percent very minute.”

The current CPR standard is to alternate between 30 strong, two-handed compressions of the chest (right between the nipples of the patient with clothing pulled back to avoid obstruction) at the rate of 100 compressions per minutes, alternating with two breaths. And repeat, as long as your stamina allows

Stewart explained how CPR is actually a manual form of operating a pump.

The goal is “squeezing the heart between the sternum and the spine” to expel blood, he said, then “when you release (the compression), it pulls blood in,” through two one-way valves.

After calling 911 to summon help, compressions matter above all else.

“You don’t have to give mouth-to mouth (resuscitation) to a stranger if you don’t want to,” Stewart said. “Just keep doing compressions.”

Wednesday’s “Friends and Family” CPR, AED (automated external defibrillator) and Heimlich maneuver class, which did not provide certification for someone needing it for their employment, lasted every bit of two hours and was packed with information and advice.

Watch Steamboat Today for news of a repeat of the course in the future.

To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205, email tross@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @ThomasSRoss1


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