A CPR kiosk at Indianapolis International Airport | Courtesy of the American Heart Association

On Wednesday, June 13, hundreds of people will be able to learn a type of CPR that doesn’t require mouth-to-mouth contact to save a life, hands-only CPR.

The Start the Heart Foundation will be training spectators how to do hands-only CPR at the Louisville MTB Short Track Series at Louisville’s Eva Bandman Park, 1701 River Road.

This type of resuscitation, which is also known as compression-only CPR, allows bystanders to skip rescue breaths — a part of CPR that has scared some people away in the past.

“Some of that is the yuck factor,” said the foundation’s leader Dr. William Dillon. “People are more likely to try and attempt to save someone” with the hands-only approach.

Dillon is the president and founder of the foundation, which has taught more than 34,000 people hands-only CPR at various locations, including schools.

During hands-only CPR, the bystander “is basically functioning as the victim’s heart,” Dillon said in an email. “Compressing on the chest ejects the blood from the heart, and when we relax on the compression, the heart fills. One problem with giving breaths is that the blood is not circulating at that time, which is bad for the brain.”

In support of hands-only CPR, the American Heart Association notes on its website: “If you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse, call 911 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of any tune that is 100 to 120 beats per minute.” (Think “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.)

“Immediate CPR can double or even triple a person’s chance of survival,” according to the American Heart Association.

At Eva Bandman Park, the foundation will be teaching the hands-only method at 5:45 p.m. between races to help increase the chances that people who go into cardiac arrest outside of hospital settings will be saved.

“There were 850 (out-of-hospital) cardiac arrests last year in Louisville, and only 1 of 10 people survive in our community,” Dillon said. “Some communities have a survival rate of 50 percent.”

Unless a member of the public responds to a person who’s gone into cardiac arrest, the person has almost no chance of survival.

A triathlete received bystander CPR from someone who had gotten trained by the  Start the Heart Foundation, Dillon said. The rescuer had learned about the foundation at a previous appearance by Start the Heart at the park.

“The triathlete has fully recovered and is normal,” Dillon said in a news release.

In addition to public events, groups can schedule a free hands-only CPR class with the foundation.

If Wednesday’s races are rained out, the CPR demonstration will be postponed until the next week, Dillon said.

This story has been updated to clarify the circumstances under which the triathlete received CPR.

Darla Carter is a hometown girl who recently joined the staff of Insider Louisville to mostly cover health. She previously served as a longtime health and fitness writer for The Courier-Journal, where she also worked for the Metro, Neighborhoods and Features departments. Prior to that, the award-winning journalist wrote for newspapers elsewhere in Kentucky and Tennessee, covering a range of topics, from education to courts. She's a graduate of Western Kentucky University, where she studied journalism and philosophy, and is the proud mom of two young children.


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