Would your 10-year-old child or grandchild recognize the signs or know how to help somebody who was having a heart attack?
Medical City Fort Worth cardiac nurse Jennifer Baumann, RN, believes it’s important to educate young people about heart attacks. That’s why she provides cardiac education, including CPR, each summer for kids participating in the annual Fire Camp sponsored by the Saginaw Professional Firefighters Association. About 790,000 people in the U.S. suffer a heart attack each year.
“If kids learn this early enough, they could be the ones who save the lives of parents or grandparents,” says Baumann, Structural Heart Program Supervisor and Chest Pain Center Program Coordinator for Medical City Fort Worth. “My daughter learned to do CPR when she was six, so these young people can learn to perform effective CPR. We just have to teach them.”
Fire Camp aims to teach students the importance of teamwork and physical fitness, as well as building self-confidence and initiative to develop solutions to complex problems, Saginaw Fire Lt. John Tablock says.
“The students participate in fire- and medical-related activities and scenarios,” explains Lt. Tablock, “experiencing the same type of training, skills and equipment used by firefighters and emergency medical personnel.”
Hands-only CPR is one of the potentially lifesaving skills Baumann teaches the 10-to-12-year-old campers. She uses special foam blocks that help the kids learn the CPR rhythms and feel the amount of force needed for compressions.
Hands-only CPR involves chest compressions without mouth-to-mouth breaths and is recommended by the American Heart Association. It consists of two easy steps: 1) Call 9-1-1 (or send someone to do that), and 2) Push hard and fast in the center of the chest.
In between learning emergency skills from firefighters, such as how to use a fire extinguisher or evacuate a home safely, Baumann works with the campers to help them understand the importance of developing heart healthy habits at an early age.
“These kids take away quite a bit from camp,” Tablock says. “And, they take what they learn home to their parents. All of the firefighters who work the camp are volunteering their time, and we appreciate Medical City Fort Worth also loaning Jennifer’s expertise to us during the week.”
“My favorite part is, at the end of the week when we have the graduation ceremony, we see how the kids have changed and grown,” Baumann says. “When their parents ask them about heart attack and stroke symptoms, they can spout them off, which is fantastic.”