Tulsa City Councilors and City Council staff gathered at City Hall to learn how to save a life on Feb. 13.
EMSA paramedics lead the training session in hands-only CPR, a procedure that can save the life of a sudden cardiac arrest victim. They also instructed the group on how to use an AED, or automated external defibrillator.
According to the American Heart Association, nearly 360,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually in the UnitedStates. Fewer than 10 percent of these cardiac arrest victims will survive.
City Councilors want to help change these statistics in Tulsa by getting trained in CPR and urging others to do the same.
"We want to encourage all Tulsans to take this important step in readying themselves for a crisis situation," Councilor Phil Lakin, Jr., who organized the event, said.
EMSA paramedics demonstrated the three steps to CPR - check, call, compress:
EMSA paramedics said CPR can be learned in less than an hour and there is no age requirement to learn the procedure. Children eight- to ten-years-old can be strong enough to give chest compressions.
"It's one of those things you have to practice," EMSA paramedic Scott Williams said.
"It's faster than you think when your doing compressions on somebody," Williams sad.
CPR training increases the number of people in a community who are prepared to help in cardiovascular emergencies. Immediate CPR from a bystander can double or triple the chance of survival for a cardiac arrest victim.
Councilor Lakin said he needed the refresher course, as he hadn't learned the procedure in years.
"Now I feel a lot more confident in being able to go out and help somebody who needs my help," Lakin said.
And because about 80 percent of sudden cardiac arrests happen in private or residential settings, the person you save could be someone you love.
"Bystander CPR is important because you never know when you're around your family and friends, when you might have an emergency," Williams said.
The Tulsa community is already off to a good start. Tulsa's cardiac arrest save rate is one of the highest in the country, and paramedics say their goal is to shoot for an even higher percentage.
"We're at 45.2 percent cardiac arrest return of spontaneous circulation and we're trying to get over 50 percent," Williams said.
Councilor Jeannie Cue said city councilors can continue to help everyone get CPR training by conducting training programs at council district meetings.
Tulsans interested in learning CPR can visit the Citizen CPR website at tulsacpr.com to see a list of available classes. Groups of six or more can get a training class for free.
Citizens can also contact the Red Cross or the American Heart Association to sign up for a class or to organize a training event in the community.
The Save-a-Life Summer in the Park series offers free CPR classes every Saturday during the summer starting May 31 at Tulsa-area parks. View the schedule and locations here.