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Release: April 4, 2001

National CPR weekend is April 28-29

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Does cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) save lives? A group of young heroes from Kalona knows for a fact that it does.

While giving swimming lessons at the municipal pool last July 18, lifeguards noticed a swimmer at the bottom of the pool. They pulled him from the pool, called 911 and started CPR. The lifeguards successfully resuscitated the young boy, who made a full recovery.

In an effort to help save more lives, the American Heart Association (AHA) will train thousands of people in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) the weekend of April 28. The association has declared April 28—29 "National CPR Weekend." At least 50,000 people total are expected to learn CPR in more than 100 communities during mass training events, including more than 200 to be trained in Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City from 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 4 p.m. AHA volunteers, staff and community partners are working together to conduct the event. National event sponsors include Discovery Health Channel and Laerdal Medical Corporation, with additional support from the American College of Emergency Physicians and local sponsors, including Johnson County Ambulance Service, Johnson County EMS Association, Iowa City Area Chamber of Commerce, Iowa City Fire, KKRQ 100.7 the Fox/KXIC-AM, Mercy Hospital, University of Iowa Health Care and the Iowa City Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Information about Iowa City's National CPR Weekend event can be obtained by calling 1-888-LEARN-CPR (532-7627). Information about other local CPR training courses can be obtained by calling toll-free 1-877-AHA-4CPR or by visiting the AHA's Web site at

"When performed effectively, CPR can double a sudden cardiac arrest victim's chances of surviving," said Lance Heern, a staff member in the Emergency Medical Services Learning Resources Center at the UI Hospitals and Clinics. "National CPR Weekend provides a convenient, fun and easy way for everyone to learn a skill that may save the life of a friend or family member. When your spouse, parent or child's life is on the line, CPR training allows you to overcome your fear and act quickly and confidently."

Cardiovascular disease is the nation's No. 1 killer, and many deaths -- about 220,000 per year -- occur suddenly and without warning due to sudden cardiac arrest. A victim is likely to die within minutes if CPR and defibrillation do not occur. CPR can add critical minutes to a sudden cardiac arrest victim's life by pumping blood and oxygen to vital organs such as the heart, brain and lungs. The signs of sudden cardiac arrest include an abrupt loss of consciousness, collapse and the loss of normal breathing. The majority of all sudden cardiac arrests occur at home (75-80 percent) and only about 5 percent of sudden cardiac arrest victims survive.

During National CPR Weekend, instructors will train participants using a new CPR/basic life support course called "CPR for Family and Friends." The new course lasts about two hours and is based on the AHA's revised "Guidelines 2000 for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and Emergency Cardiovascular Care," published in the August 22, 2000 supplement to Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association. This course does not provide CPR training certification for health care professionals.

In addition to training thousands of National CPR Weekend participants, the AHA's basic and advanced life support courses are used to train more than six million people each year. The courses are provided through a network of 3,500 training centers and 250,000 instructors. The AHA's courses have been taught throughout the U.S. for more than 30 years.

National CPR Weekend is an important program supporting Operation Heartbeat, the AHA's national grassroots initiative designed to increase the sudden cardiac arrest survival rate. Operation Heartbeat encourages people to learn the signs of sudden cardiac arrest, call 9-1-1 immediately and perform CPR. Operation Heartbeat also promotes the availability and use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs), which provide an electric shock that can reverse the deadly heart rhythm present during most sudden cardiac arrests.

The American Heart Association spent about $337 million during fiscal year 1999-2000 on research support, public and professional education, and community programs. Nationwide, the association has grown to include more than 22.5 million volunteers and supporters who carry out its mission in communities across the country. The association is the largest voluntary health organization fighting heart disease, stroke and other cardiovascular diseases which annually kill about 950,000 Americans.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI College of Medicine and the UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at