A CPR success story in Edwardsville is offering a prime example of the importance of learning and using the life-saving technique. On the heels of an incident in December, the Edwardsville Fire Department and the Glen Carbon Fire Protection District are teaming up to offer “Savings Hearts for Valentines,” a series of free CPR classes for the public throughout February.
The free classes will be held on Feb. 1 and 15 at the R.P. Lumber Center, 6289 Tiger Drive in Edwardsville, and Feb. 11 and 25 at Glen Carbon Fire Station No. 1, 199 S. Main Street, Glen Carbon.
Participants will attend one two-hour class. There will be a maximum of 20 people, ages 14 and older, per session. Priority will be given to those who live or work in Edwardsville and Glen Carbon. To reserve a spot in one of the free sessions, contact the Edwardsville Fire Department at (618) 692-7540.
The classes will cover CPR basics, including a compressions-only version that does not require mouth-to-mouth breathing for those who are not comfortable using that method. Whiteford said both techniques are effective in cardiac situations. The class also will emphasize the importance of quickly calling 911, and instruct in the use of an AED, or automated external defibrillator, which is a portable medical device that’s becoming more common in offices and public buildings.
“The more people we have who are trained in CPR out in the world, the better chance that we’ll have someone close by in emergency situations who could make that life-or-death difference,” Edwardsville Fire Chief James Whiteford said.
In December, Rick Smith collapsed at his workplace in Edwardsville’s Gateway Commerce Center. Co-worker Jamie Johnson quickly called 911, and Edwardsville Public Safety Telecommunicator Michele Russell assessed the situation while dispatching paramedics. She instructed Smith’s co-workers, Jason Guyette, Samantha Womack and Steve Foust, to initiate CPR. With Russell’s aid, they continued CPR for about 12 minutes until Edwardsville paramedics took over and transported Smith to Anderson Hospital in Maryville. Smith was treated and later released.
At the Jan. 17, 2023, Edwardsville city council meeting, commendations were announced for Russell, Johnson, Guyette, Womack and Foust. Edwardsville Firefighter-Paramedics Joey Cruz, Tanner Sweetman, Cole Schrage, Sarah Jansen and Fire Capt. Robert Morgan also were acknowledged for their roles in the encounter.
Whiteford said Russell, Johnson, Guyette, Foust and Womack played crucial roles in what’s known as the CPR “chain of survival.” A person suffering a cardiac incident has a better chance of surviving and recovering when there’s early recognition of what’s taking place, early calls to 911, early initiation of CPR and then quick arrival and transport to a medical facility by paramedics.
The Edwardsville and Glen Carbon fire departments last year implemented an “enhanced” form of CPR intended to boost the speed and efficiency of their response to cardiac incidents. But Whiteford said what happens before they arrive is vital, which is why the free CPR classes are important.
“A lot of people are intimidated or scared of doing CPR, but recent changes have made it more user-friendly,” Whiteford said.