You all they got, you all they need

Imagine you are outside on Broad Street when all of a sudden someone collapses, what would you do? This past February, after the Philadelphia Eagles’ Super Bowl parade, I had to do just that, help resuscitate someone in cardiac arrest among a sea of green.

It has been six long months since that day — and since that glorious Super Bowl win — and the Philadelphia Eagles are back at it again tonight, kicking off the first game of the pre-season. With that in mind, I thought it imperative to promote the importance of learning how to save a life with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and an automated external defibrillator (AED) — one of those “shock box” jawns. In the US there are over 350,000 sudden cardiac arrest events annually, and survival is low, just 11%. A sudden cardiac arrest occurs when someone’s heart suddenly stops beating, and the victim is technically dead. A sudden cardiac arrest is different than a heart attack, which occurs when there is a blockage in an artery of the heart.

When someone’s heart has stopped beating it takes the quick provision of CPR, and the use of an AED when appropriate, to hopefully bring them back to life. Performing these steps can double to even triple the chance of survival. Yet in the US only 4 out of 10 victims of a sudden cardiac arrest will receive the life-saving intervention of CPR. In Philadelphia, the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection, that number is even less, only 1.5 out 10 victims will receive bystander CPR. As a resuscitation scientist and native Philadelphian with mad Philly pride, this breaks my heart almost as much as the crack in the Liberty Bell.

Watch Super Bowl Champion Brandon Graham being trained in CPR by the Center for Resuscitation Science’s Mobile CPR Project.

But, like the Philadelphia Eagles’ super bowl win, we can come together as a team to change this! Today, because Philly is special, there are many ways to learn these life-saving skills, including from local groups such as the CPR Ready Coalition — a campaign designed to improve survival rates in Philadelphia, and the Mobile CPR Project, which takes free Hands-only CPR training into the Philadelphia community. The Mobile CPR Project even trained super bowl champion Brandon Graham recently! In addition to local groups, there are a number of online tutorial videos from the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross.

I will now spread the LOVE and tell you what to do if you see someone suddenly collapse. If an adult collapses and they are unresponsive (Yo, are you ok? No response.) and not breathing normally (gasping), call 911, and begin hands-only CPR. Place your hands on the center of their chest and begin pushing hard and fast — hum the tune Staying Alive by the Bee Gees if that helps youz. If an AED is available, turn it on and follow the instructions. It will walk you through how to use the device.

Remember doing something is better than doing nothing and you can’t hurt someone worse than dead. For every minute someone in sudden cardiac arrest goes without CPR being performed, their chance of survival decreases by 10%. So this week, and every week of football season and beyond, please take the time to learn these life-saving skills. Because, when a sudden cardiac arrest occurs, you all the victim’s got and you all they need!