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Cardiac arrest survivor wants others to learn life-saving skill | Community Spirit

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Cardiac arrest survivor wants others to learn life-saving skill
Cardiac arrest survivor wants others to learn life-saving skill

Survivor: '[I was] clinically dead, and I was that way for 20 minutes'   

Sudden cardiac arrest kills 1,000 people a day in the U.S., which is roughly one person every two minutes.  Would you know what to do if you saw someone collapse in front of you?

Channel3000.com and WISC-TV are proud to partner with St. Mary’s Hospital on Saturday for Hands on Hearts -- a community-wide event offering free compression-only CPR .

COCPR is a hands-only technique to help those in sudden cardiac arrest. The constant compressions are performed 100 times a minute to the center of a patient's chest. The compressions keep oxygen-rich blood flowing to the heart and brain. Mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths are not needed.

When compression-only CPR is used on a victim of cardiac arrest, the chance of surviving increases greatly.

“Just doing good compressions by a bystander can double or triple a person’s chance of survival,” said Shari King, Emergency Medical Services Coordinator at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Nick Wagner knows how a bystander’s help can mean the difference between life and death.

“I didn’t have a pulse. I wasn’t breathing. That’s clinically dead, and I was that way for 20 minutes,” he said.

Five years ago, Wagner went into sudden cardiac arrest near the end of his shift while working at a rubber plant in Reedsburg. Two coworkers stepped in to save the then-26-year-old’s life.

“Personally, I cannot be grateful enough that a whole bunch of people, especially my coworkers, took my life in their hands, and when you’re in cardiac arrest, it’s just a matter of minutes when you have to save somebody’s life,” Wagner said.

Wagner has since moved to the Milwaukee area, works as a licensed practical nurse and is about to graduate from a registered nursing program.

“I really get to enrich the lives of people that are in serious health conditions. That’s just the whole draw for me – to take a bad medical situation and turn it into a great experience like what I got at the hospital,” he said.

Wagner is now encouraging others to learn COCPR.

“Get the training. Be prepared to use it, because it’s just the most beautiful thing in the world to save a life,” Wagner said.

This weekend’s event marks the third year the free training will be offered. In 2010, more than 1,000 people were trained in the technique, and in 2011, more than 1,400 learned how to save a life. This year, organizers hope to educate many more.

“We expect more than that in one day, and even if we can save one life – it’s worth it,” said Janet Adams, major events coordinator at St. Mary’s Hospital.

Hands on Hearts will be held at 12 locations in eight south-central Wisconsin communities. The training is free and takes just 15 minutes.  For more event information, visit www.channel3000.com/hands-on-heart.

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