Paramedic Wayne Schneider offered these tips for dealing with incidents of cardiac arrest like the one that felled him while on an emergency call. He is the founder of First Response Training, which specializes in bystander CPR.
Call 911. Saving lives is a team effort. “It involves paramedics, nurses, doctors and the hospital’s post-[incident] care,” he said. “It’s a massive effort.”
Do something. Previously, some experts feared that CPR could damage a heart that doesn’t need it. “The teaching on that has changed,” he said. “The thinking now is that we’d rather do CPR on someone who doesn’t need it than not do something for someone who does need it.”
Forget about mouth-to-mouth. People who aren’t certified in CPR should skip the breathing part of the rescue and do chest compressions only, at a rate of 100 a minute.
Don’t be afraid to use defibrillators. “Nowadays you see them everywhere from grocery stores to offices,” he said. “The new ones are virtually 100 percent foolproof. They read the heart rhythm, and if a shock isn’t appropriate, nothing will happen when you push the button.”
Take CPR lessons. Schneider will be glad to teach you if you contact his company, but he points out that there are many other resources, including hennepinems.org/ProjectHeartSafe, the Hennepin County Medical Center and Red Cross. Your local fire station also can refer you to a class.