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Seniors learn life-saving skills

It’s never too late to learn CPR.

That’s why some women from the South Lake Tahoe Senior Center got together on Monday to sharpen their resuscitation skills.

Joe McKenna and Dave Peterson, from South Lake Tahoe Fire Department’s Station No. 1, hosted a free course for seniors, focusing on the importance of Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation.



“The older we get, the greater the need for CPR,” McKenna said. “We also look to providing CPR services to anyone. Anybody who is interested in a class, who has more than six people, we’ll do it.”

The senior program is a refresher course for those who have had CPR training in the past and a good foundation of information for those who haven’t. Most of the women at Monday’s class said they have taken some sort of CPR course, but have forgotten most of the information.



“I took it 10 years ago,” Lena Brum said. “But I just want to take it again because I forgot what to do and if I had to do it, I want to remember.”

Nancy Davis, a member of the senior center, said it’s important to review CPR skills as often as possible.

“I took it before, but I don’t remember everything,” Davis said. “I took it last year, but I wanted to come again.”

According to McKenna, there are six steps to saving a person’s life, known as the “chain of survival.” The first step is citizen response, knowing how to recognize the warning signals. Next, early access of Emergency Medical Service is crucial. In other words, call 911. The third step is first responder care, or the basic skills needed to keep someone alive. EMT care, hospital care and rehabilitation make up the last three links of the chain, but are not as important as the first three.

“The first three steps are up to the citizen,” Peterson said.

“A person who is in cardiac arrest, or can’t breathe has between four to six minutes until irreversible brain damage occurs,” McKenna added. “There is zero chance of a person with cardiac or respiratory trouble surviving without those first three steps of the chain.”

There is a 38-percent increase of survival when the first three steps are followed.

In addition to teaching the actual process of CPR, McKenna and Peterson also emphasize the first two steps in the chain.

“One of our primary jobs is to teach people the signals to recognize,” McKenna said. “So many times, people say, ‘You know, he didn’t look right this morning. And he came home from work early, and he never does that.'”

According to McKenna, such inconsistencies could be signs that a heart attack is on its way, or some other kind of medical problem.

“We teach them what to say to the dispatcher too, so we can get there as soon as possible,” Peterson said.

In addition to the free senior program, the South Lake Tahoe Fire Department also offers a CPR program at South Tahoe Middle School, a Spanish CPR course and community classes.

Community classes are held at Barton Memorial Hospital every third Saturday of the month. Contact the Barton Educational Department for information.

For other information, call McKenna at (530) 542-6161.


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