National CPR Week is June 1-7


Learn CPR and Save a Life

The first week of June marks the annual occurrence of National CPR and AED Awareness Week. National statistics continue to show that CPR can double or triple a person’s chance of survival, especially if performed in the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest. Do you know CPR?

A recent medical emergency at West Valley High School reinforced that the skills learned in a CPR class may save a life. Security cameras recorded the incident on April 29 as a visiting community member fell to a hallway floor. Seeing no signs of life, a bystander initiated CPR and was quickly replaced by a school district staff member with training in First Aid and CPR. While 911 was called, another staff member ran to retrieve the school’s automated external defibrillator (AED). By the time the AED arrived, the patient was showing signs of life and it was ultimately determined that the patient had experienced a seizure. However, these bystanders acted appropriately and, had the event been an actual cardiac arrest, their actions would have greatly increased the victim’s likelihood of survival.

A recent report evaluated cardiac arrest survival rates in the Spokane Valley Fire Department’s (SVFD) service area. Using a nationally standardized system for evaluating cardiac arrest survival known as the “Utstein Bystander” measurement, the report found that victims of specific types of cardiac arrests in the Spokane Valley who received bystander assistance survived in 50 percent of the 2016 cases. This rate is higher than the national survival rate of 38.2 percent and the Washington survival rate of 46.7 percent in 2016.

Our Department has long recognized the importance of bystander CPR in both early patient survival and long-term outcomes. This is why we offer free “Friends and Family” CPR classes on the second Saturday of each month. In about two hours, our firefighters teach participants how to perform hands-only CPR (no more mouth-to-mouth!) and how to use an AED. Learn more about these and register online or by phone at (509) 928-1700. Today is a great time to sign up to learn CPR! Our firefighters also teach CPR and AED use to students in four high schools in East Valley and West Valley school districts. Each year, we train about 800 students as part of the Ninth Grade Health curriculum.

In addition to providing training to citizens and students, SVFD has also adopted an innovative new approach to cardiac arrest intervention. Since 2012, we train our firefighters and paramedics to deliver what is referred to as “high-performance” or “pit-crew” CPR. This is a highly choreographed method of delivering care to a cardiac arrest patient that is based on the latest research into resuscitation. Members of SVFD introduced the pit-crew concept to the Spokane area and the practice has been adopted by our regional response partners. This regional approach to cardiac care delivery is particularly important now that automatic aid agreements are in place ensuring that incidents are handled by the closest appropriate resources, regardless of jurisdiction.

Citizens and first responders trained in CPR and AED use can enhance their value as an emergency resource by downloading the PulsePoint App. This free App, introduced to the Spokane region by SVFD in 2014, is designed to crowdsource CPR by notifying citizen responders of a nearby cardiac arrest. The “responders” in this case are simply individuals who are trained in CPR and have expressed a willingness to help someone experiencing a cardiac arrest in a public place. PulsePoint works seamlessly with fire department dispatching software to provide this notification based on the proximity of participants to the victim. PulsePoint also provides the location of nearby AEDs. More information is available at

You never know when a friend, colleague, loved one or stranger might suffer a cardiac arrest and need assistance. Instead of standing by helplessly, enroll in a CPR class, download the PulsePoint App and be prepared to help. You’ll be glad you did. And, the citizens served by the Spokane Valley Fire Department thank you.

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