LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. — By the time you’re finished reading this story, another American will have died from heart disease; once every 38 seconds, according to the American Heart Association.
Statistics say it’s the leading cause of death in the United States, but experts say you can help stop it. It’s the reason a group in Lee’s Summit used a unique platform for CPR training Tuesday night at Lee’s Summit North High School.
The halftime performance at the men’s varsity basketball game turned into a hard-to-forget teachable moment.
“We’re going to take advantage of having a gymnasium full of basketball fans, and we’re going to give 500 people exposure to how to do hands-only CPR,” said Jason Jonas, director of emergency services at Lee's Summit Medical Center.
February is National Heart Awareness Month, and it’s the reason Jonas and his staff, as well as students and faculty, used the Bee Gees song “Stayin' Alive” to engage with the crowd at Tuesday night’s game.
“If our heart is not beating, we need to mimic that through CPR, so Staying Alive, the tune, the beat, is exactly 100 beats a minute," Jonas said.
Experts say you should start CPR if you see someone collapse and stop breathing.
“Push hard and fast," Jonas said. "We can always fix broken ribs tomorrow. We can’t fix a very sick heart tomorrow.”
Crowds expected to watch some hoops and cheer on their team, but a gym full from Broncos also left the game with valuable skills to help others stay alive.
“There will be parents of players, parents of students, younger siblings of students and players," Jonas said before the game. "The more education we can get out into our community, the better off our potential survivability will be."
Experts removed the mouth-to-mouth portion of the CPR technique a few years ago, stating that early on in cardiac arrest, a person still has enough oxygen. So the focus is more about blood flow to the brain and heart. They also say removing mouth-to-mouth limits any concerns about spreading illnesses.