Scout troop joins heart safe campaign

A Coon Rapids Boy Scout troop has joined the efforts of the Coon Rapids Police Department to have Coon Rapids certified as an American Heart Association Heart Safe Community.

Coon Rapids Police Officer Briana Johnson (left) watches as Troop 524 Boy Scouts Lawrence Hapka and Eli Andrzejek (far right) practice CPR and AED use on a mannequin.
Coon Rapids Police Officer Briana Johnson (left) watches as Troop 524 Boy Scouts Lawrence Hapka and Eli Andrzejek (far right) practice CPR and AED use on a mannequin.

Boy Scout Troop 524 out of Church of the Epiphany hosted a training session Feb. 25 in the use of CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillators) operation for both its Scouts and adult leaders.

And in doing the troop became the first community organization to have this life saving training through the heart safe community project.

According to Kyle Palzer, Boy Scout Troop 524 communications coordinator and Heart Safe Community outreach coordinator, there were 45 Scouts and 30 adult leaders who took the training session.

“Boy Scout Troop 524 will be the first Scouting unit in the city to become trained,” Palzer said.

“Scouts and adults received personal hands-on training of both AED operation and CPR.”

According to Palzer, the Scout troop decided it wanted to be involved in the training after hearing and talking about the heart safe community project.

The Scouts have had some training in CPR in the past, but “nothing hands on like this” involving both CPR and AED, Palzer said.

“They are very excited and enthusiastic,” he said.

There are two AED machines at Epiphany Church and School, but this training will enable Scouts to respond in a sudden cardiac arrest situation no matter where they are before emergency services arrive, Palzer said.

The training in the Epiphany Cafeteria was led by Allina Paramedic Paul Mendoza, a longtime Coon Rapids resident, and Officer Bryan Platz, who is spearheading the police department’s heart safe community project.

They were joined as trainers by two other police officers, Dan Freiberg and Briana Johnson, Fire Inspector Nick House from the Coon Rapids Fire Department and Deb McPeck, an Anoka-Hennepin School District 11.

Before breaking up into small groups to perform CPR and AED procedures on mannequins, the Scouts heard a presentation and demonstration from Mendoza on what to do in the event of sudden cardiac arrest situation.

They learned about what is called the chain of survival including recognizing heart attack symptoms and sudden cardiac arrest signs plus the treatment protocol using both CPR and AEDs.

According to Mendoza, chest compressions at a rate of 100 compressions a minute should be started before the arrival of the AED.

With the help of House, Mendoza showed the Scouts how the electrodes from the AED should be attached to the victim’s body and how to follow the voice prompts from the AED.

A person suffering sudden cardiac arrest is clinically dead, but the person has not flat-lined because the monitor will still show a wavy line rather like a four-year-old using a crayon, Mendoza said.

“The first two minutes are critical,” he said. “There are big odds you can save them.”

Indeed, in his experience as a paramedic, Mendoza said a patient in sudden cardiac arrest will wake up after the first AED shock and start talking as if nothing had happened.

There are two types of AED, one that transmits the shock automatically and the other that requires the operator to push a red button on the machine, he said.

The danger in that is the operator might hesitate, which is why Mendoza said he prefers the automatic AED.

Nor can the AED shock hurt the person in sudden cardiac arrest, he said.

“It’s OK to use an AED on a child under the age of 18, even the age of one,” Mendoza said.

And Platz told the Scouts that they cannot get into trouble for using CPR and an AED.

“You are helping to save a life,” Platz said.

According to Platz, One Beat CPR has donated two AEDs to the police department to be used in its heart safe community training program.

All 20 of the city’s police squad cars are now equipped with an AED, so are all the vehicles used by the fire department.

To become a heart safe community, there are certain criteria that have to be met, including having 17 AEDs placed in Coon Rapids businesses, having a specific number of people training in CPR and AED use, both of which are based on population, and scheduling public events, Platz said.

Besides the training session with the Troop 524 Scouts, all staff at Epiphany Church/School, clergy and teachers included, will be trained in CPR and the AED process, he said.

And Platz is working with Life Time Fitness to offer CPR/AED training to its customers, as well as with Broadway Pizza for staff training.

All these training sessions are free of charge to community groups and businesses, Platz said.

The goal is not only to provide the training, but get AEDs located in public places, including businesses in the community, according to Platz.

The retail cost of an AED is about $2,400, said Coon Rapids Police Chief Bard Wise.

“Police and fire respond to hundreds of cardiac emergencies a year in retail establishments and in the event of sudden cardiac arrest, hands-on CPR and the use of an AED increases a person’s survival rate to about 85 percent in the first two minutes,” Platz said.

If members of the community are trained in CPR and the use of an AED, this will provide critical minutes for survival of victims until the arrival of emergency services, according to Platz.

Boy Scout Troop 524, which was formed in 1964 and will be celebrating its 50th anniversary in November 2014, currently has over 80 youth members.

According to the American Heart Association Heart Safe Community brochure, designation as a heart safe community “makes the community a safer place to live, work and play by being prepared to reduce the number of deaths and disabilities associated with sudden cardiac arrest.”

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]