ORLANDO, FL (Ivanhoe Newswire/WTVM) -- It can happen anywhere at any time-- someone collapses and stops breathing. Cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States, yet less than half of the people who have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest get the immediate help they need. More than 90% of individuals die before reaching the hospital. There are three things that most people don't know about CPR that could save 200,000 lives a year.
Manny Orozco is a college student and an experienced first responder. But last fall, his training came too late.
"When I approached the student he was completely unresponsive and he had no pulse," Orozco says.
Orozco says he performed CPR, but the student had been down for a number of minutes.
"For an 18-year-old freshman to pass away from sudden cardiac arrest is the most devastating thing in the world," he says.
The community CPR Coordinator at the Orlando Fire Department, Tracie Ryan, says, "CRP will definitely save lives."
Ryan is on a mission to make sure every man, woman and child in her community knows CPR. She says it's that critical, and that easy, but she's fighting a lot of misinformation.
"Seven out of ten people didn't know what to do in a cardiac arrest setting and they didn't want to do CPR cause they didn't want to give mouth-to-mouth," Ryan says.
That's the first myth she wants to bust. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is out. CPR is now hands only. So first call 9-1-1 and then …
"You're going to take one hand in the center of the chest and you are going to take your other hand; you're going to put your shoulders over the chest and you're going to push down and you're going to sing the beat of staying alive," Ryan says.
She says people are worried they will do more harm than good … that's myth number two.
Ryan says, "I'd rather have a broken rib and sit in the ICU alive than have intact ribs and be buried in the cemetery. That's what I tell everybody."
Finally, she works to overcome the fear of automated external defibrillators, or AED's. They are not dangerous … or hard to use.
"AED's look like they are intimidating to people, they're not. Once you open it they speak to you," she says.
Orozco says, "The AED didn't come to us for about three to four minutes."
He says finding the AED quickly on campus could have made all the difference.
"It's the difference between giving someone a fighting chance of surviving and living versus them dying," he says.
In many states, there's an effort to ensure students learn CPR before they graduate. According to the American Heart Association, more than 40% of all U.S. high school graduates now know CPR.