SOURCE: The Nashua Telegraph By: Tom Himsel

Paramedic Patty Stolarz, a 30-year veteran paramedic, recalled a recent incident that illustrated the importance of the task at hand for her and other trainers Wednesday.

It was two years ago at Nashua’s YMCA, just before Christmas, said Stolarz, when a woman swimming at the pool had a medical emergency. Stolarz said the woman was pulled out of the water and the lifegaurd started CPR. EMTs arrived and took over, but the initial actions by the lifeguard made a world of difference.

“She got to spend Christmas with her children,” Stolarz said.

Stolarz and others from AMR Ambulance, along with Nashua’s Community Emergency Response Team members (CERT), were at the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua Wednesday offering short, but critical, training in hands-only CPR to passers by.

“Today is national hands-only CPR day,” said 16-year veteran EMT Karen Scott of the nationwide effort by the ambulance company. “What we are doing is going around trying to teach hands-only CPR.”

AMR employees were offering the lessons as part of National Emergency Medical Services Week and had trainings set up at the Pheasant Lane Mall and the Nashua Sports Academy.

Instructors had plastic training dummies designed to provide as realistic experience as possible. Correct technique in chest compressions on an unresponsive person resulted in steady clicking sounds, providing accurate feedback to the trainee.

The 1970s disco classic “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees provided a steady beat and audible hook to remember tempo was played to attract shoppers.

“People don’t like to do rescue breaths. By doing hands only, you’re circulating blood so you don’t have to worry about giving rescue breaths,” Scott said. “Studies have shown that compressions are the most important part of CPR. We’re trying to eliminate that fear factor.”

AMR workers wanted to show those they were training that, like the lifeguard at the YMCA, “they can actually make a difference in saving somebody’s life,” Scott said.

Thomas McDonald of Lowell, Mass., stopped by the team’s table Wednesday. He took a quick lesson and received a paper certificate afterwards. McDonald admitted an emergency situation that would require his intervention has yet to present itself but acknowledged that in Wednesday’s quick session, “I learned ways you can save someone’s life.”

The paramedics Wednesday all agreed they were there working to diminish the public’s fear of involvement and eliminate inaction during a medical emergency.

“Hands-only CPR is the best way to get the general public involved. We’re trying to eliminate that fear of doing CPR because nobody wants to touch other people,” she said. “They can do it. They can make a difference without getting that personal with a stranger,” she said.

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