Politics aside, Annapolis Mayor Josh Cohen is someone you want around. At least if you go into cardiac arrest. Cohen is so good in administering CPR that he bests paramedics.
Along with Cohen, city spokeswoman Rhonda Wardlaw and 100 other city employees were CPR-certified through the City of Annapolis Fire Department for National CPR Week.
So did yours truly, who was Cohen’s runner-up.
“It sets a standard that public safety is all of our responsibility,” said Wardlaw. “The more people who know CPR, the safer the streets of Annapolis are.”
The mayor agrees. He first got certified a decade ago, when the first of his two daughters was born.
He’s still a pro, showing off his near-perfect compressions on a computer-connected dummy that rates how well you’re doing.
“It’s our responsibility to be prepared, as citizens,” Cohen says. “It just takes a few hours, but it could save a life.”
CPR certification starts with an American Heart Association video teaching how to do the compressions.
No more mouth-to-mouth. Good compressions are what science says saves lives.
On baby dummies, we use two fingers instead of one fist.
The Bee Gees’ classic Stayin’ Alive is the perfect compression tempo — 100 per minute — for CPR.
We’re a-stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive. Ah, ah, ah , ah stayin’ allllivvveee, I repeat in my head, picturing John Travolta strutting in his tight pants in Staying Alive. After compressions comes training with an automated external defibrillator (AED) that shocks the heart to kick-start a normal rhythm. The devices are becoming more popular in public places, with over 80 in 8.1 square miles of Annapolis.
AEDs are made to be used by anyone, trained or not. Open the kit for verbal instructions. The machine calculates if a person in distress needs a jolt, then times the shocks. It’s still an intimidating machine. Our electricity-free AED training makes us a little nervous.
But after 15 minutes, we’re AED pros.
Next comes the Heimlich maneuver. Put both hands around the choking person above the belly button, then thrust up to push out whatever is chocking the victim.
Then it’s official. We’re certified.
You should be, too. Don’t be stopped by worry about hurting people, getting messy or being liable. It’s better to hurt a victim than to stand by and watch a death. The Good Samaritan Act protects you from liability if something does go wrong.
Scott Svoboda, Annapolis City Fire Department’s captain of Emergency Medical Services and a paramedic of 15 years, can recall countless times a trained citizen was pumping CPR as he pulled up, making the difference between life and death for the victim.
Want to learn? The City Fire Department offers classes to Annapolis no-profits and citizen groups of 10 for a small price, $30 per person. Individuals will be collected on a rolling list or added to a group that is short until there is at least 10. Email firstname.lastname@example.org; Svoboda is waiting on the other side.
Outside Annapolis, you have options, too, with more organizations and citizens providing training: