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First responders advocate 'hands-only' CPR

Saving a life might not be as complicated as many people think.

That's because "hands-only" CPR, which can be learned in just a few minutes, is rivaling the more traditional approach that can involve mouth-to-mouth, said Edward Stapleton, chairman of the Citizen CPR Initiative committee of the Suffolk Regional Emergency Medical Services Council.

He and others will be issuing a "call to action" at Tuesday's meeting of that organization and sharing strategies for "citizen CPR" training approaches. The council includes emergency medical care providers from area police and fire departments, ambulance corps, hospitals, agencies and businesses.

"We can train people very quickly in short, focused sessions," Stapleton said. Even just watching a one-minute video could give people "enough skills and knowledge."

Both the American Red Cross and American Heart Association feature on their websites "hands-only" CPR demonstration videos, showing this chest-compression method.

Many member organizations already do ongoing training, but this initiative will help "deliver a consistent message in the training" and measure "the impact on the survival of cardiac arrest patients in Suffolk County," said Jay Gardiner, REMSCO chair.

For the value of CPR training overall, look no further than the April 25 incident involving Alana Kiceina, of Mastic, who collapsed on her front lawn, Gardiner said.

The first Suffolk police officer on the scene, 17-year-veteran David Frabizio, said CPR and a defibrillator were used to revive her. Frabizio said that when he arrived, a passerby, Shawn Mitchell, 35, of Ridge, was trying to revive Alana using CPR.

Officials said Mitchell's quick action helped save the girl's life.

Alana was "doing well" Friday -- her 11th birthday -- after successful surgery to implant a defibrillator in her chest, her father said.

Among the strategies to be presented Tuesday:

The "Take 10" collaborative effort spearheaded by the Suffolk County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services in which 10-minute training sessions are being planned for the same time and day at a number of locations, such as libraries, schools, volunteer fire departments, houses of worship.

A mass-media marketing campaign that would involve regularly featured demonstration videos.

A kiosk program in public spaces, such as malls, hospitals, airports that would feature short videos and practice mannequins.

Apart from sharing ideas on Tuesday, the committee will be looking longer-term for funding support, Stapleton said.

Also, with an eye to increasing survival rates of sudden cardiac arrest victims, Suffolk County announced Thursday a joint initiative with Minnesota non-profit Take Heart America that's aimed at coordinating and enhancing county-wide training and technologies for the general public, first responders, emergency medical services, and hospitals, according to a release.

As a first step, the Suffolk County website early next week will offer a section called Take Heart Suffolk County, offering videos, resource material, statistics and what's hoped to become a comprehensive listing of area course offerings, said Joel Vetter of Suffolk County Department of Fire, Rescue and Emergency Services.

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