Someone – maybe a friend or even a family member – has cardiac arrest right before your eyes. His heart has stopped beating and he requires immediate attention. What do you do?

On Tuesday morning, January 14, 20 women and 14 men gathered at the Beth Gavriel Community Center in Forest Hills to train for times of need when they can rise to the occasion and be a hero of humanity. The gender-specific classes educated the participants on vital CPR training along with AED (automated external defibrillator) techniques and critical first aid tactics.

Batya Babayev, a longtime respected secretary at the synagogue, voiced, “The Beth Gavriel Mikvah Be’er Miriam V’Yaffa thanks Councilmember Karen Koslowitz for generously arranging for the classes via The Staten Island Heart Society and for the donation of an AED to the mikvah through the NYC Beating Hearts Initiative.” It is reported that only half of Americans would perform lifesaving CPR, because the other half just do not know what to do, fear legal ramifications or hurting the victim, and think someone else will come to the rescue. The benefits of performing CPR far outweigh the risk and can double or even triple the chance of survival.

Elazar Mullokandov, Operations Manager for the Alliance of Bukharian Americans Health Committee, understands this calling and does not want to wait for someone else to step up. He explained that the need to attend the training was straightforward, “just in case we are placed in a happening where a family member requires aid or if we are walking down the street and we encounter an individual experiencing an emergency, we do not want to feel helpless. With the knowledge of the course in toe, I am able to take preventive action and make a difference in the life of another.”

The SI Heart Society is a nonprofit organization on a mission to promote healthy hearts through educational activities, programs, events, and through the enhancement of public access defibrillation programs, all to reduce the rate of death and disability from heart disease and stroke. The facts remain quite simple: General knowledge of CPR and the use of AEDs save lives. Those who have learned the skills of CPR are able to step in when minutes count. There is no limit to how many lives can be saved from obtaining such abilities and ensuring that your community has access to timely defibrillation with AEDs. An individual’s chance of survival during cardiac arrest increases when he or she is defibrillated in under six minutes, according to studies. The likelihood of survival decreases ten percent as each minute passes. Opening a conversation to heart-health talks in your school or community group will provide listeners with the unique ability to take their health into their own hands and help the process of reducing heart disease within the community.

The NYC Beating Hearts Initiative allows each New York City Councilmember the opportunity to distribute two or three AEDs to nonprofits including private schools, youth sporting facilities, senior centers, and similar locations in his or her district. Koslowitz chose the community mikvah as the destination for one of her AEDs.

As the youth director at the hosting shul, Simcha Musheyev expressed, “It is an absolute delight to see the community come out to gain assets to benefit the lives of our community and those they encounter.”

The sponsored course prepared attendees to recognize when someone requires CPR and how to administer resuscitation to the highest performance level. The concepts of the chain of survival were then revealed with demonstrations on providing the most effective breaths via mouth-to-mouth or mask-to-mouth device for all age groups. During the AED training, the participants learned how to alter methods for adults, children, and infants. The attendees learned proper practices to conduct the Heimlich maneuver on various age ranges who are found in a state of choking. Other talents picked up included the basics to first aid, EpiPen usage, and how to respond to medical, injury, and environmental emergencies. Narcan training was conducted, as well, to help combat opioid-associated life-threatening emergencies.

The women’s program was led by the Director of Operations for the SI Heart Society, Rachel Volpe, RN, with the assistance of Maureen Del Duca, RN; the men’s team was directed by Joseph Del Duca, RN, and Joseph Pessolano, EMT-Paramedic. Joseph Del Duca stressed that “all measures learned are only to be used to manage an emergency until emergency medical services arrive. AEDs should be checked to ensure that they have been activated, as many installed throughout our community have not actually been activated and this can result in costly minutes wasted during an emergency.” Furthermore, AED pads need to be replaced every two years, and batteries every five years. If you maintain a location with an AED, please take it upon yourself to ensure regular maintenance as you would a fire extinguisher or carbon monoxide / fire detector. Pessolano added that “this is the fourth year the organization has partnered with the NYC Council to provide this training throughout the five boroughs.”

A general tip for anyone experiencing a choking episode when alone is to mimic a chest thrust by throwing himself or herself as forcefully as possible onto the back of a chair. This act of compression will hopefully launch the food or obstructed item upward. It is important to note that people should do their utmost to ensure that their door is unlocked, as this will help emergency personnel get to the victim hastily.

Many present worried if they could be held responsible for wrongdoings when responding to an unfolding emergency. On September 18, 2011, the 911 Good Samaritan Law was enacted to absolve those who call 911 from prosecution, despite the situation surrounding an emergency. Drug and alcohol emergencies often occur in the presence of others, and interaction from medical experts within the first few hours can significantly help the patient. In 1984, the Good Samaritan Law was enacted, providing specific protection for actions or omissions in a civil lawsuit for someone providing voluntary aid to another without the expectation of pay in an emergency where medical equipment was not present. Trainers explained that the law encourages those with familiarity in aid to “do what you are trained.”

When asked what enticed him to participate in the program, Rabbi Refael Ribacoff replied, “As an educator and rabbinical leader, these critical tools enable me to step up to the plate and do what is necessary in both my positions as an Executive Director of Yeshivat Sha’arei Zion and as the rabbi of the Sephardic Congregation of Hewlett.”

Rachel Volpe noted, “Eighty percent of cardiac arrests occur in the home. Taking this training gives everyone the chance to literally save a life when presented with an emergency. The chance for successful results increases 40 percent with bystander CPR knowledge. Do not be afraid; give CPR and save a life.”

By Shabsie Saphirstein