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'Stayin' Alive': West Valley firefighters promote hands-only CPR in humorous video

WEST VALLEY CITY — What do booty-shaking firefighters, "CPR" rings, Grandma's funeral potatoes and the Jazz team mascot have in common?

They all make an appearance in West Valley City Fire Department's light-hearted new video promoting hands-only CPR.

"We wanted to do something fun that celebrated Utah's uniqueness," said Roxeanne Vainuku, public information officer for West Valley City Fire Department, as the department introduced the five-minute video on Wednesday.

When someone is in cardiac arrest, the moments before emergency responders arrive on scene are vital. The American Heart Association says 350,000 cardiac arrests happen outside of hospitals in the U.S. Of these, nearly 90 percent result in fatalities.

But if someone receives CPR in the first few minutes, his or her chance of survival can double or even triple.

Yet only 20 percent of locals jump in to give CPR to those in cardiac arrest in the West Valley area and "across the Wasatch Front," said Bryan Larsen, a battalion chief for the department. This compares to 46 percent in the rest of the nation, according to the American Heart Association.

"We're just trying to get something out to help remove the fear of doing CPR and trying to save someone's life, and see if people will step in and take those lifesaving tools that they can learn," Larsen said.

He attributes lack of action to a fear of performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, noting that many people without CPR certification are uncomfortable performing the procedure.

"If five of us had a cardiac arrest and it was witnessed by bystanders, only one of us is going to receive CPR," Larsen said.

Firefighters in southern Utah are also familiar with the issue, showing that it might be shared by communities throughout the state.

"I would almost say we're right in line with (West Valley City)," said Robert Hooper, a battalion chief on the St. George Fire Department, when contacted by the Deseret News.

He added that the St. George Fire Department also emphasizes hands-only CPR training within the community, especially among youth, because of its convenience when compared to traditional CPR.

To perform hands-only CPR, you do not need to be certified, Larsen said. You also don't need to check for a pulse, clear the person's airway or perform mouth-to-mouth, as required during traditional CPR.

Hands-only CPR isn't only easier, it improves chances of survival as compared to traditional CPR performed by lay individuals, according to data from Arizona published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

West Valley City Fire Department's video shows the procedure in a humourous way. It states that when someone collapses, you should check if they are awake and breathing normally. If they aren't, you should "act fast," call 911 and start hands-only CPR.

During the procedure, you should push down at least 2 inches — or "about as deep as a couple cups of fry sauce" — about two times per second to the tune of the Bee Gees song "Stayin' Alive."

In addition to the video, West Valley City Fire Department is offering monthly classes through May beginning Feb. 15. To register, visit the fire department's website