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Hands For Life Stamford Sets U.S. CPR Record

STAMFORD, Conn. – The Rev. Cliff Lee was saved by CPR on July 21, and now other heart attack victims will be saved, thanks to Hands for Life Stamford 2012. The event, held Saturday at Chelsea Piers, broke a U.S. record by training 5,131 participants in a single day, beating the previous record of 4,626 set in Texas in 2009.

The event fell short of beating the world record of 7,909, set by the Singapore Heart Foundation last year.

Tom Nero, a cardiologist at Stamford Hospital and an organizer of the event, said doctors at the hospital came up with the idea a few years ago “to make a bigger difference in cardiac survival. Only one in four victims get CPR when they need it. With outreach and training, we seek to get the number to 60 or 70 percent and double or triple the survival rate.”

Lee, a Stamford resident, was playing racquetball at the Jewish Community Center in town, “when I fell over backward, my head dropped, my eyes rolled back and my heart stopped beating,” he said. “God’s grace kicked in, because another player knew CPR and he saved my life.”

An ambulance was called, but it took 10 minutes to arrive, so the player’s knowledge of CPR was a lifesaver for Lee.

Paul Moeller, an emergency medical technician for Stamford Emergency Medical Services, was one of the trainers who taught CPR to Hands for Life participants.

“It’s hands-only CPR,” he said, “because the American Heart Association eliminated mouth to mouth resuscitation for laymen.”

The hands-only method utilizes compressions to get blood flowing through the body.

“Place your palm on the sternum and your other hand above it and do fast, deep compressions, 110 per minute,” Moeller told participants.

James Koch, a Seymour ambulance line officer, demonstrated the automated external defibrillator (AED), a portable apparatus that sends shocks of electricity to restart the heart. Koch showed participants how to attach the electrodes to a victim’s chest and start the AED.

Jonathon Krackehl, a participant from Norwalk, said, “I did CPR years ago with mouth-to-mouth and wanted to refamiliarize myself. Anyone can spend 15 minutes to save a life, and I don’t want to be powerless in an emergency situation.”