Staying alive on Longboat Key

Guest Columnist

Members of the Longboat Key Fire Rescue Department visited the Rotary Club of Longboat Key at its March 22nd meeting to demonstrate the latest techniques in “hands only” CPR and the use of AED (defibrillator) devices. Chief Paul Dezzi introduced Lt. Brian Carr and Firefighter Ron Koper who presented the 45-minute class that they have provided to more than 700 Longboat Key residents in the past 18 months. Carr explained that the Department wanted to engage the community and give back to its residents when it decided to launch this program. As a result, the members of the Department are now better connected to the people that they serve.

Carr was proud to report that all members of the Department are firefighter/paramedics and that their emergency vehicles are “rolling emergency rooms” with a response time of less than 5 minutes. “That’s blazing fast, and we’re very, very proud of it,” he boasted, adding, “The lower the response time, the better for the patient – time is muscle!” In 2016, the Department handled 1604 runs, which represents a 12% increase over five years ago.

Carr and Koper reviewed the circumstances that warrant a call to 911 (chest pain, abdominal pain, shoulder pain, “not feeling right,” falling, and stroke symptoms). They also explained the differences between heart attack and cardiac arrest, with cardiac arrest being the situation that is addressed by CPR. With cardiac arrest, the victim is unconscious and often has not previously experienced symptoms. Carr explained, “It’s an electrical issue, and the heart stops pumping.” CPR, administered at 120 compressions per minute at a depth of 2 inches into the sternum area, becomes the manual pump, allowing the heart to refill and circulating oxygenated blood through the body. Carr and Koper stressed, “Anything is better than nothing … Just do your best,” explaining that people should not be afraid to try CPR to save a life. Carr stated that 70% of cardiac arrest events happen at home, and 39% of those events are witnessed. When witnessing cardiac arrest, “shake and shout” (ie. ask the victim if he’s OK), call 911 and send someone to get an AED device (if available), and start compressions as soon as possible. Carr reported that the median age of cardiac arrest victims is 66; with a median age of 71.3 on Longboat Key, it is crucial that people know how to react.

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