Saving a Life, Saving a World

LAKEWOOD -

Did you know that out of approximately 350,000 sudden cardiac arrests that occur each year, some 10,000 incidents occur in the workplace? Most of these victims will not survive unless they receive immediate CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation). And the sad truth is that most of them don’t!
Faced with this shocking scenario, Lakewood medic Mr. Ari Gass chose to do something about it!

By way of introduction, can you begin by telling us what CPR does and why it’s so important?
In an emergency situation where the heart stops beating, CPR is a procedure that’s used to keep the blood flowing in order to provide oxygen to the brain and other vital organs, giving the victim a better chance for a full recovery. Reports show that if CPR is administered within the first two minutes of cardiac arrest, the chances of survival are double. In many cases, however, there is no bystander around who knows CPR and nothing can be done for the victim until the First Responders arrive — even minutes later — at which point it may be too late to save him, R”l.
What prompted you personally to start offering courses in CPR?
I’ve been involved in emergency medicine for most of my adult life, as an EMT volunteer and dispatcher for Hatzalah, a member of Chaveirim, and more recently also as a paramedic with MONOC, the Monmouth Ocean County Hospital Service Corps. I’ve repeatedly seen up-close the dire consequences of sudden cardiac arrest and the role that CPR can play in reversing it.
About three years ago, a friend of mine went into sudden cardiac arrest and was saved by his neighbor who knew CPR. I was haunted by the thought of what could have happened had this person, like most people, not made the effort to take a CPR course. Given my training and experience, I decided to step in and start teaching CPR.
I started the CPR Training Academy not long after. We currently provide on-site CPR training sessions for employees in offices and schools; we’ve opted to use group-training because it enables us to reach a number of people at once. With a single two-hour session, an employer can have his whole team of employees trained to perform CPR, and to use an automated external defibrillator.
As sessions include practice on a dummy, they may take slightly longer if the group is large.
Who are your instructors?
Our staff is comprised of professional medical personnel such as paramedics and emergency room nurses who are able to award American Heart Association (AHA) and/or American Safety Health Institute (ASHI) certification to those who attend our courses.
What prompts an employer to hire your services?
It sometimes results from a health scare in the workplace. IUsually, however, employers contact us because they’ve seen our ads and decide they want to create a safer environment for their employees by training them to deal with emergencies.
Among our clients are several local companies, schools, yeshivos, day-care centers and camps. They’ve all learned CPR, but some, like the Special Children’s Center, have taken additional courses because they need to deal with many health issues. Camp staff are taught the use of the EpiPen to treat allergic reactions to stings and bites, and also foods.
Have you thought of giving courses to younger people too?
CPR courses are certainly valuable for everyone, but few schools include it in their curriculum. We’ve provided courses in the secular departments of some local elementary schools, usually for the upper grades. There have also been requests from other schools, but since their afternoon program works on a very tight schedule, it’s often hard to find instructors who are available to fill the short time slots they’re allotted.
If I told you I wanted to learn CPR (and why not?), would you be able to accommodate me?
Not at present, as our courses cater only to groups and are given at workplaces. But we’re currently looking to find a suitable location where we could give courses that would be available to individuals who have not been offered CPR in their workplace. As most out-of-hospital cardiac arrests take place in the home, CPR is something that everyone should know.
Looking forward! In the meantime, can you tell us any feedback you’ve received?
Well, a teacher told me that a child in her class choked on a candy only a few days after she’d taken our CPR course, which includes the use of the Heimlich maneuver. (The Heimlich maneuver, a standard part of all first-aid and CPR courses, is used to dislodge an obstruction from a person’s windpipe). The woman forcefully compressed the child’s abdomen; the child “coughed” and the candy was expelled. B’siyatta diShmaya, the child survived! Saving a life means saving a world! It’s gratifying to know what a CPR course can do!
It could be that there were other cases too, but they didn’t get back to me.
I have also heard from several employees that they feel empowered by the knowledge that they could save a life if called upon. A few older men and women have told me that they’ve taken courses before, but they didn’t feel they really “knew” CPR until they encountered our very practical and hands-on approach.
Of course, I hope that they, and everyone else who learns CPR, won’t have to demonstrate their skills. I look upon CPR rather like an insurance policy. It’s something you need to have but hope you’ll never have to use!
For more information, please contact Mr. Gass at 732-300-2511 or cprtrainingacademy@gmail.com.