The Holly Springs Fire Department will begin offering two new programs this month to teach residents about CPR to help reduce the number of cardiac arrest deaths in Wake County.
Joe Harasti, the department’s fire and life safety educator, recently began teaching a free, hands-only, non-certification CPR course and will soon add a $20 American Heart Association certification course.
“Every second that goes by increases the potential of not surviving a cardiac arrest,” he said. “The more people that you have that are trained, the more people that can help in that situation.”
If someone has a cardiac arrest in Wake County, Harasti said there is a 50 percent chance that there will be a bystander who knows how to perform CPR until emergency medical services arrive. This could mean the difference between life or death.
“Having a 50/50 chance is not very good in my mind,” Harasti said. “I’d like the odds to be a lot better.”
The hands-only CPR course is a basic program that teaches compressions only, but not ventilations, as well as other life-saving lessons, including the psychology of emergencies.
“What’s difficult is the high stress and high anxiety of the situation, so here in Holly Springs, we add a portion to help the general public deal with that high stress of that emergency,” Harasti said.
The American Heart Association certification class is a more detailed course, including lessons on compressions, ventilations, first aid and the use of an automated external defibrillator.
The class, which is normally $80, will cost $20 to cover required AHA materials and equipment.
“We are making it vastly more affordable to the public,” Harasti said. “In some cases, a family that may have only been able to certify one family member in CPR and first aid, they now will be able to do four for the same cost.”
Yong-In Martial Arts of Holly Springs already has donated about $1,500 it raised for the certification class. This assistance will allow all of the employees to be certified, as well as 50 other Holly Springs residents at no cost.
The department’s goal is to eventually teach two to four classes per month, Harasti said. In the past, he also has demonstrated CPR at several Holly Springs events, like the town’s Fourth of July celebration, which will continue.
“It’s nice to be able to finally offer that to the public where we can get that information, education out there and hopefully end up saving a life with it,” he said.
Scheduling and registration for these classes will be through the Holly Springs Parks and Recreation. Non-Holly Springs residents will be able to sign up for these courses.
“I think the CPR program is wonderful,” Mayor Dick Sears said. “I think it just epitomizes one more time how proactive (the Holly Springs Fire Department) is and will continue to be.”
These efforts continue a string of proactive measures by the town in terms of safety. The town provides AED defibrilators in its buildings, and residents who take the certification class would learn how to use them.
“I think it does promote confidence, not only for the people who do it, but for the people who need it,” Sears said.
The Morrisville Fire Department also offers the same courses at no cost to anyone interested in learning CPR – hands-only or for certification. Since the department kicked off its first course in 2014, more than 200 people have been trained, the town said.
“I feel it absolutely makes a difference,” said Shandy Padgett, Morrisville’s fire marshal. “Folks are being able to get trained, and in the event that something should happen, if they are at work or at home, they can start to provide aid.”
The Holly Springs Fire Department is looking for further ways to educate the public when it comes to CPR training, including an app and an interactive kiosk. The town would likely need grant funding to pursue these methods of education.
The app, called PulsePoint, allows people with CPR training to be registered and notified when there is a need close by, but it was cost prohibitive when the department first investigated it.
The kiosks would teach hands-only CPR, like an interactive video game, and could be placed at the W.E. Hunt Recreation Center, Cultural Center, Holly Springs Community Library and town events, Harasti said. There are only six of these kiosks in the world, and the Holly Springs Fire Department wants one.
“They are very rare, and us having one would be an anomaly at best, but we have a tendency to do things not by the book,” he said. “We like being different. We like it’s never been done that way.”
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608: @KTrogdon
Initial registration for the American Heart Association Certification course may be done by phone or in person through the W.E. Hunt Recreation Center, 301 Stinson Ave., Holly Springs. 919-557-9600.
Classes will be held at the Holly Springs Fire Department headquarters at 700 Flint Point Lane.