A new self-training kiosk at Hennepin County Medical Center seeks to train more Minnesotans so they understand CPR and aren't afraid if they ever need to use it.
Designed in shape and simplicity like a Whac-A-Mole arcade game, the console takes people through the basics of hands-only CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, and has them practice compressions on a dummy chest to get the pressure and pacing right.
"Hands-only CPR can save lives," said Barb Ducharme, executive director of the Twin Cities chapter of the American Heart Association, which helped purchase the kiosk with the Medtronic Foundation. "If it's performed immediately, hands-only CPR can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim's chance of survival."
The first public demonstration of the training kiosk came Friday from Alicia Bravo, an HCMC ER nurse who suffered a cardiac arrest last summer while swimming across a Wisconsin lake with her father and other relatives trailing her in a boat.
"I stopped [swimming], looked up at him, and mouthed the words 'help,' " she said. "He threw me a flotation device and I didn't go after it."
Her sister jumped in and grabbed her before Bravo's body went limp. Her father lifted her into the boat and performed CPR until they reached a dock and medics arrived.
At Friday's demonstration, Bravo pumped the dummy chest at a rate approximating the beat of the Bee Gee's song, "Staying Alive." She got a perfect score.
"Since my cardiac arrest," she said, "I've made it my mission to teach others hands-only CPR."
The kiosk is one of 26 in the U.S. and the first in Minnesota, according to the American Heart Association. It is located on the second floor of HCMC's red building, adjacent to the skyway connecting to the new outpatient center.
More than 359,000 cardiac arrests occur in the U.S. each year — with one in five occurring in public places. The survival rate for out-of-hospital victims is 13 percent, but Ducharme said the heart association's goal is to double that figure.
"One of the ways we can achieve this is by doubling the bystander CPR response rate in Minnesota, from 36 percent to 72 percent," she said.
Noting that cardiac arrest victims are "technically … dead," Ducharme said that "any CPR is better than no CPR."
But the kiosk and other efforts — such as the state requirement to train all public high school students in the hands-only technique — should help people feel confident if the time ever comes.
Bravo said she owes her life to the care she received, starting with the CPR provided by her father.
She asked him later how he knew what to do.
" 'I didn't know how not to do it,' " he told her. "He's my hero."