“We’ll beat them like we beat the police at softball.”
By Brandi Makuski
In honor of American Heart Month, two local fire chiefs have entered into a friendly challenge to see which department can train more residents in CPR.
For the entire months of Feb. and March, fire departments from Wausau and Stevens Point are in a race to train 500 residents in “hands-only” CPR.
The challenge as calls for placing public access automated external defibrillators (AEDs), and raising funds for local foundations that support cardiac arrest survival. The fire departments in both cities will lead the efforts, promoting CPR classes and encouraging the purchase and placement of AEDs.
According to the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation, every year in the United States, EMS responds to more than 320,000 sudden cardiac arrests. Nationwide, however, only about 10 percent are resuscitated and survive.
“If we can lower that number by even one life, it’s worth it,” said Stevens Point EMS Chief Joe Gemza.
“Our best hope for saving more lives rests in the hands of family members, friends and co-workers,” said Dr. Michael Curtis, emergency physician with Ministry Health Care and chair of the Portage County Cardiac Arrest Survival Team. “We just need to train more of them to perform CPR and provide them with AEDs.”
Each fire department will record the number of citizens trained in CPR. Anyone conducting CPR training can help their community reach their goal by notifying the fire department of the class and the number of students. Any form of CPR class including a class on compression only CPR counts.
Businesses are also asked to notify their local fire department of any new AEDs purchased in February and March.
Cardiac arrest survival funds have been set up by the Foundations of Saint Michael’s and Saint Clare’s Hospitals. Everyone is encouraged to make a donation, and the proceeds will be used to purchase AEDs for charitable organizations in our area. Anyone interested in applying for these funds can contact the Saint Michael’s Foundation or Saint Clare’s Foundation.
The Central Wisconsin CPR Challenge will kick off on Feb. 8 going through March 31, 2016.
The challenge also brings together two former coworkers — Wausau Fire Chief Tracey Kujawa, who was formerly chief of the Stevens Point Fire Dept. — and SPFD Chief Bob Finn, who once was Kujawa’s assistant chief in Stevens Point.
“We’ll beat [Wausau] like we beat the police at softball,” Finn said of the challenge, referring to the city’s annual Guns & Hoses charity softball game.
For more details about how you can help save a life, contact the Stevens Point Fire Department at (715) 344-1833 or the Wausau Fire Department at (715) 261-7900. For additional information see the City of Stevens Point’s Web Page or the Stevens Point Fire Department’s Facebook Page.