Disco music was pumping in downtown Akron on Tuesday to help hundreds of people learn a simple technique for staying alive.
Several hundred FirstEnergy and FirstMerit employees participated in the Akron stop of the American Heart Association’s CPR Mobile Tour, sponsored by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation.
The event at Cascade Plaza was part of a national push to show people how to perform Hands-Only CPR on victims of sudden cardiac arrest until emergency medical responders arrive.
Participants in the 20-minute training sessions practiced administering hard compressions to the center of the chest of a blow-up mannequin known as Mini Anne to the beat of the disco hit Stayin’ Alive.
“We say if you know disco, you know how to save a life,” Kelly Martyn, an actor from Los Angeles who is serving as the tour’s master of ceremonies, told the crowd. “Anyone can do it, and everyone should.”
Martyn instructed the trainees to remember two important steps: Call 911 and then administer the compressions to the disco beat until help arrives.
“You can save a life without having to do mouth-to-mouth,” she said.
FirstEnergy analyst Jen Hardin, 47, of Bath Township, was among about 70 employees from the utility company and FirstMerit who participated in the first of six outdoor training sessions held throughout the day on Tuesday.
The Hands-Only CPR method “is easy to do, easy to remember,” she said.
The American Heart Association began encouraging people to learn Hands-Only CPR as an alternative to traditional CPR with mouth-to-mouth several years ago to improve survival rates from cardiac arrest, said Gina Henke, spokeswoman for the Akron area chapter of the American Heart Association.
The hands-only option emphasizes “you don’t need to have a medical degree or go through hours and hours of training to save a life,” she said.
According to the American Heart Association, nearly 400,000 Americans suffer cardiac arrest outside hospitals each year. Only 10 percent survive because few receive immediate, on-the-scene CPR.
Anthem provided a $4.5 million grant to the American Heart Association last year to support the three-year, national training tour.
“They hope to double the survival rate for cardiac arrest by 2020,” said Maureen Mendel, an Anthem account executive for Northeast Ohio.
Mike Kreighbaum, 54, of Cuyahoga Falls, an employee in FirstEnergy’s downtown Akron office, said he decided to participate in the training after the company encouraged workers to sign up for the event.
“I don’t know if I’ll ever need it, but if I do, hopefully it will help,” he said.
For more information about Hands-Only CPR, visit the American Heart Association’s website at www.heart.org/HandsOnlyCPR.
Cheryl Powell can be reached at 330-996-3902 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow Powell on Twitter at twitter.com/abjcherylpowell.