Burnsville is trying train 6,000 people to combat cardiac arrest — one person in every 10 in town.
But it's falling well short, and extending the effort past the initial deadline.
The three-year campaign to teach compression-only CPR will go past the new year, in an attempt to meet the project's ambitious goal.
The campaign is called, "Burnsville Heart Restart: Who Will YOU Save." It aimed to train 6,000 citizens over a three-year span to combat the No. 1 cause of death for people over 40.
To reach that goal, the Burnsville Fire Department has been offering free one-hour CPR classes and materials to any individual or organization wishing to learn the lifesaving skill.
Burnsville's efforts are part of a wider county initiative to bolster hands-only CPR instruction and, consequently, save lives, said Assistant Fire Chief Brian Carlson.
After almost three full years of the program, about 2,000 residents have been trained, Carlson said. The department is turning to social media to spark more participation.
Each year, the condition strikes about 424,000 people, according to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation. And nine out of 10 people who suffer cardiac arrest out of the hospital die. Survival rates skyrocket in cities where at least one-tenth of the population feels comfortable performing CPR, Carlson said. If performed immediately, CPR can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim's chance of survival, says the American Heart Association.
Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when the nerves stop sending impulses that tell the heart to beat. And there is usually no warning.
"It can strike anybody at any age," said Carlson, explaining that a person doesn't have to be overweight or elderly to become a victim.
Fear of performing mouth-to-mouth CPR on strangers was one reason for dismal survival rates — about 5 percent nationally. Since 2008, the American Heart Association and other large groups have found success in moving away from that method, Carlson said.
Hands-only CPR is easier to teach and administer, which is why people are more likely to use it, he said.
Burnsville training sessions aren't for certification, but rather a short-and-sweet lay peoples' introduction to CPR. One class will teach residents how to recognize and respond to cardiac arrest, while practicing chest compressions on dummies. All classes are free, even large groups.
Sandra Litman, owner of a Burnsville CPR training center called Lifesavers, decided to run a community version of her class for her block after a neighbor died from cardiac arrest.
"People always think this is just something doctors and nurses can do," she said. "Anyone can. I want them to do it with competence and confidence."
For more information or to register contact Carlson at 952-895-4573.