100 Beats Per Minute: FUEMS Workshops Teach Students CPR

Just keep singing and saving lives

by Bria McNeal

Before February 13th I was about -10% confident in my abilities to help someone in a resuscitation emergency. Did I take a CPR class in middle school? Sure. Have I watched almost every episode of Grey’s Anatomy? Yes, of course. But could I put my mix of 7th grade gym curriculum and TV binging to work in order to actually help someone if they needed it? Nope. Not at all. However, thanks to Fordham University Emergency Medical Services (FUEMS), now I may actually be useful if, God forbid, an emergency situation were to occur.

FUEMS volunteers have been working tirelessly for months to make our campus safer for both students and faculty. Their most recent feat has been the addition of Public Access Automated External Defibrillators, or AEDs, across campus. These machines can help save lives with their ability to assess one’s heart rhythm and use electric pulses to shock it back to an effective rhythm. The best part is that they are extremely user-friendly and will give instructions on how to use them once turned on. Though you may not have noticed them, an AED can be found on the first floor of all academic buildings on campus. Their presence around campus can increase the chances of survival significantly in case of cardiac arrest. Though CPR alone is helpful, it is only about 18% effective. AEDs, however, can increase survival rates by more than 80% if administered within the first 3 minutes of cardiac arrest. It is FUEMS’s goal to expand on this Public Access AED project by obtaining additional AEDs for placement in campus Residence Halls.

Last month, FUEMS Director Alexis Verwoert (FCRH ‘19), organized Fordham’s first CPR event of the year with the help of fellow EMT members. The event was created to introduce both AEDs and standard CPR training to the public. With a swift change of decor, McGinley 2nd transformed from a large ballroom into a professional training facility for faculty and students.

EMT volunteers were spread across the room, ready to assist any and all newcomers. Some EMTs shared informational pamphlets with students about CPR care, while others assisted in trainings and signed people up for future sessions. Meanwhile, affiliate clubs like Special Olympics and Gift of Life had tables lining the walls of the event, giving students the opportunity to learn more about their organizations. I, however, had the pleasure of going through a practice training with EMT volunteers Janee Dovela (FCRH ‘19) and Paige Wallner (FCRH ‘21).

In typical FUEMS fashion, they quickly sensed my nervousness and provided a fun fact to calm my nerves. “There’s a whole playlist of songs that you can sing while doing CPR,” Paige said. She then informed me that said songs have been curated into a Spotify playlist by the New York Presbyterian hospital. Each one follows the 100 beats per minute rule, so you know how fast to go. With the help of their quick anecdote and the sound of “Sorry” by Justin Bieber playing in the background, I was ready to learn.

Step 1: Check for a pulse

Step 2: Call 911 (if there’s no pulse, or their pulse is faint)

Step 3: Begin compressions. Interlock your hands and place them in the center of the chest, then push down (aim for 2 inches) 100 beats per min.

*this is where that playlist comes in handy, but “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees is a great go to

Step 4: Send someone else to grab an AED, turn the system on, and follow instructions as you continue compressions while awaiting EMS arrival.

Step 5: After the shock, leave the AED attached to the patient and continue compressions. Don’t stop until the professionals arrive.

This is, of course, my watered down version of a much more complex procedure. If you want the full details, contact FUEMS to set up a training session. The next CPR training events will be Sunday March 10th and Thursday March 14th at 7 p.m. Thanks to EMT sponsors covering the cost of training, you could attend the class for free if you’re one of the first 50 students to sign up!

FUEMS would like students and faculty to know that it’s okay to be nervous and not know what you’re doing. What’s most important is that you take the time to learn the proper techniques. Doing so could truly help save a life.

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