Across South Florida, Baptist Health nurses give their time and talents to the community in many ways. Through our volunteer efforts with the American Heart Association, we support the ultimate goal of equipping all Americans with the skills they need to perform bystander CPR.

Nearly 383,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur in the U.S. every year, and 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home. Yet, 70 percent of Americans may feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they either do not know how to administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation or their training has significantly lapsed. Effective bystander CPR, when provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. Yet, only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.

Baptist Health nurses have taught these lifesaving CPR skills to thousands of South Florida youth via training events presented in Miami-Dade County and Broward County public schools as well as through other groups such as baseball camps, church groups, Boy Scout and Girl Scout troops and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Aided by a grant from the Harry T. Mangurian Jr. Foundation, we have also purchased CPR training kits that students and their families can use at home to practice their skills.

To further increase the number of laypersons trained in CPR, Baptist Health South Florida has joined forces with the American Heart Association to advocate for Florida legislation that would require all students to become trained in “hands only” CPR before graduating from high school. Plans call for introducing the bill in 2014.

Our nurses also work with the American Heart Association to develop training for nurses in other countries. In Jamaica, we have assisted in establishing Northern Caribbean University as an AHA training center. Our train-the-trainer sessions help those nurses learn to teach the skills that save lives.

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