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Hands-on CPR easy to learn, priceless to know

It’s scary enough for a bystander to witness a stranger going into cardiac arrest, let alone a son with his father.

A Cottage Grove family was just getting home from a softball game between Park and Woodbury high schools when Tim Galloway began feeling chest pain.

He didn’t think anything of it. He sat there on the couch ranting about his home team’s loss with his wife Lori and son Jesse.

Suddenly the chest pains turned into something more and Tim went into cardiac arrest.

Frantically running around trying to figure out what to do, Lori went to the kitchen to dial 911. By the time she got back into the living room she saw Jesse doing chest compressions on his dad.

The May 11 incident happened just a couple of months after the 14-year-old learned hands-only CPR at church through a program Woodbury’s Public Safety Department launched in 2012.

Jesse didn’t think twice when he saw his father, 45, unresponsive. Before the dispatcher advised them to begin CPR, he was already doing it.

“He just couldn’t let his dad go,” Lori Galloway said. “He wanted to do everything he could to save his dad’s life.”

About five minutes went by before help arrived — which Lori said felt like a lot longer — but they were the most critical in eliminating further brain damage.

“The chest compressions not only saved him, but saved his quality of life,” Lori said.

Jesse took the hands-only CPR class at Crossroads Church in Woodbury. It was part of the “Take Heart” campaign that Woodbury Public Safety Department began last year to train 7,000 area residents hands-only CPR in case an incident just like this one occurred.

“I had no idea that he had taken the class,” Lori said. “I think it was meant to be. The timing was perfect.”

Jesse was honored by campaign organizers and given a certificate of appreciation recently at a Woodbury City Council meeting.

Calling him “a true Take heart Woodbury hero” Angela Kain, a firefighter/EMT and champion of the efforts, personally related to Jesse, making her that much more appreciative of his quick thinking.

“My dad unfortunately had a sudden cardiac arrest and he didn’t make it,” she said.

Kain is hopeful that Jesse’s story and others alike will spark more Take Heart campaigns in neighboring communities, increasing victims’ survival rate that much more.

Woodbury began its Take Heart campaign in February 2012 with a goal to teach a little over 10 percent of the population hands-only CPR.

With trainings at schools, churches, nonprofit organizations and businesses, as well as public community events like Woodbury Days, more than 7,000 now know how to perform hands-only CPR.

The patient’s chance of survival after sudden cardiac arrest can increase significantly if hands-only CPR is performed as quickly as possible, said J.B. Guiton, emergency medical services commander.

“It’s a new form of CPR and we’d like to see more people involved with actually performing CPR before we show up at the scene,” he said.

The hands-only technique is as effective, if not more, as mouth-to-mouth, according to the campaign’s website.

“People just don’t want to give mouth-to-mouth to a stranger. And that’s a normal thing,” Guiton said.

Additionally, studies show that every time the bystander stops to breathe for the patient, the effectiveness of the blood circulation goes down, he said.

Because there is oxygen stored in the body when it goes into cardiac arrest for six to 10 minutes, hands-only CPR can help with the blood flow until help arrives with proper oxygen equipment, he explained.

“Hands-only CPR is more effective than traditional CPR for at least six minutes,” Guiton said.

The longer the brain and heart go without oxygen, the higher chances for death or permanent damage, Guiton said.

Saving thousands

The Take Heart America web site states that each year an estimated 300,000 Americans die from sudden cardiac arrest.

“More than car crashes, firearms, house fires, AIDS, and breast, prostate and colorectal cancer combined,” according to the website. “What’s more, this top killer can strike anyone, at any age, even without warning.”

The national rate of surviving cardiac arrest is 2 to 7 percent, Guiton said. But because of the quick response time in Woodbury, those odds go up to 50 percent.

It takes six to 10 minutes for a cardiac arrest patient to run out of oxygen and it takes 3.5 minutes for a Woodbury ambulance to arrive.

It also takes 20 minutes to learn hands-only CPR, compared with two to four hours to master the conventional mouth-to-mouth.

Riham Feshir
Riham Feshir is a reporter and photographer for the Woodbury Bulletin. Her coverage includes Woodbury City Hall, Washington County Board of Commissioners and business news.  Follow Riham on Twitter @RihamFeshir for the latest updates.