JANESVILLE, Wis. - "Hands on Hearts" trained 822 people in across five counties Saturday, teaching a technique anyone can use to help keep someone's heart beating in an emergency. From Wisconsin Dells down to Janesville, folks learned compression-only CPR.
Some folks chose to make it a family affair.
A trip to the mall has turned into a life-saving lesson for Teddy Nam and his two young relatives Nanna and Tessa. The girls practiced the technique on stuffed animals while Nam learned the skill -- which doesn't require mouth-to-mouth contact with the patient -- on a training dummy.
"You never know what situation you'll be in and I want them to know exactly what to do," Nam said. "If it matters about life and death, I think they should know what to do."
The technique has helped save lives, including a woman whose heart stopped beating at the golf course in 2010. Her husband was able to perform COCPR to save her life. In another incident, a 26-year-old man at work in Reedsburg went into sudden cardiac arrest at work in 2008. His colleagues used COCPR to keep blood pumping for 20 minutes.
Compression-only CPR is used in a situation where one has witnessed an adult collapse.
Monica Los of Delevan has never learned any type of CPR but after a few minutes at the training session, she said she was feeling empowered.
"I was just going by and I saw they were giving some free CPR classes and I thought it was very interesting to stop by and learn something new," Los said. "You never know when you're going to need it."
Experts said the first few moments of an emergency are crucial in an individual's survival. That's why healthcare workers like Kim Kempken, a registered nurse and director of the St. Mary's Janesville Hospital Emergency Department, want as many folks as possible to learn compression-only CPR.822 people take part in Hands on Hearts training
"Compressions are the most important," Kempken explained. "You want to be able to keep that pressure up in the chest and keep that blood circulating."
She said performing the firm chest compressions directly above the heart can help buy a little extra time until help arrives.
"If you don't do it, they're dead, and if you do, do it, they may have broken ribs, but they'll be alive and they'll be thanking you," Kempken said.
Most folks hope they never have to use what they learned Saturday. But some who took part, like Nicole Jones of Janesville, said they felt good knowing they could step in if an emergency arises.
"I feel so much better knowing that I could help if I ever needed to," Jones said.
The COCPR training events were provided free of charge at 12 locations throughout eight communities through a partnership between St. Mary's Hospital, Channel3000.com and WISC-TV 3.