APEX, N.C. — Literally, in a heart beat you could be the only one around to save a life. If first aid is delivered within the first couple of minutes after a heart attack, the chances of survival are great.
Some people would not know what to do, but Wake County schools are trying to change that.
There is a new push to teach CPR in Wake County middle and high schools, because each one of the 41 campuses has a new piece of equipment that can do what CPR alone cannot.
In November, WakeMed gave each of the schools an automatic external defibrillator or AED. The devices detect the heart's abnormal rhythm and deliver a shock to restore a normal beat.
"These devices are truly wonderful. They have already saved a lot of lives," CPR and AED instructor Joe Werner said.
Werner knows the AED's are useless unless someone first knows what they are and how to use them.
Whether it's a heart attack, cardiac arrest, stroke or choking, recognizing the symptoms and responding quickly is critical.
CPR keeps oxygen-rich blood flowing to the heart and brain until help arrives -- or until someone else can find and set up an AED.
There are many different AED models, but they all talk and display instructions.
"They don't take the thought process out if it, but they take a lot of the decision making out of it," Werner said.
If the trainees ever have to save a life on campus, it will not necessarily be an adult in distress.
"Students could be at risk as well as staff. You know, heart attacks are something these days that any age group -- it's not just the person that's older, anymore," Apex High School assistant principal Luther Thomas said.
Even more important is how valuable the training is wherever the need may be. AEDs can be found in airports, malls, offices -- almost any place where large numbers of people gather.
"I'd love to see them like fire hydrants -- around every corner," Werner said.
CPR Consultants are hosting free CPR and AED training for parents of Wake County school children Thursday, Feb. 26 from 6 p.m.- 10 p.m. at the Wake County Commons off Poole Road. Call 467-5048 to register.