A new method of cardiopulmonary resuscitation is not just for fire departments anymore.

A new method of cardiopulmonary resuscitation is not just for fire departments anymore.

Continuous Chest Compression CPR employs rapid chest compressions only, as opposed to the traditional CPR method that uses a combination of slower chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The American Heart Association still considers this new version of CPR an optional treatment and not the ideal one. That seems to us beside the point.

If you do nothing, there’s a good chance the person suffering cardiac arrest will die.

Each year, more than 250,000 Americans do die from cardiac arrest. At least 95 percent of cases end in death within a few minutes, sometimes before emergency medical help can reach victims.

If you think this doesn’t apply to you, think again. According to the National Institutes of Health, three out of four sudden cardiac arrests happen when the patient is at home. Often, there is no previous history of heart problems and cardiac arrest is the first symptom.

“It’s important for the public to recognize that the cardiac arrest victim is in a critical state. If no one helps, the victim will certainly die. Bystander actions can only help,” said Dr. Mickey Eisenberg, quoted on the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation’s website.

The foundation also acknowledges the common fear of bystanders that they could be sued if they do something wrong. There have been no successful lawsuits when bystanders acted in good faith to help a victim of cardiac arrest. Conversely, lawsuits have been filed against people who failed to help.

The good news is, it’s easy to train people to use the continuous chest compression method of CPR. Rockford, Ill., Fire Lt. Bob Vertiz said people are much more receptive to the new rapid compression technique. At Vertiz’s lectures, he asks for a show of hands and estimates only 10 percent to 15 percent of people are willing to use mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

We hope this editorial never applies to you or to a loved one. But don’t count on it: Every two to three minutes, someone in the United States goes into cardiac arrest.

Please. You have two good hands. Use them to save a life.

Rockford Register Star