Elias Rivera was finalizing arrangements to begin basic training as a Marine, and he needed to check in at the recruitment office located at WestGate Mall.
As he walked through the mall’s food court, Rivera, a recent Dorman High School graduate, noticed that people were training in CPR.
“I thought it looked interesting,” he said. “And going into the service, I thought it might be good for me to know CPR.”
It was CPR Saturday – an annual event hosted by the Spartanburg Regional Heart Center and supported by the Spartanburg Regional Foundation’s Community CPR Fund. Twenty-five instructors were on hand to teach anyone who wanted to learn the hands-only CPR technique.
Using training manikins, participants learned how to give strong, steady compressions that can be life-saving when a person is in cardiac arrest. Disco songs such as “Stayin’ Alive” and “I Will Survive” played in the background, helping participants keep the right pace.
“People usually think it’s going to be difficult, but we show them that it’s really easy,” said Spartanburg Regional nurse educator Melany Boyd, who coordinated the event.
Because cardiac arrest can happen anywhere, it’s especially important that community members learn basic CPR skills.
“Compression alone can save lives,” Melanie Boyd said.
CPR Saturday is among numerous outreach efforts led by Spartanburg Regional during February, which is American Heart Month.
“Heart disease is the number killer of men and women, and education is key,” said Lori Boyd, coordinator of the Joe R. Utley Heart Resource Center.
The resource center, which also receives support from the Foundation, provides community screenings and classes on topics such as nutrition. It helps spread the word each year about CPR Saturday.
“Training can turn a ‘bystander’ into a ‘trystander’ where they have learned the skills needed to perform CPR instead of feeling helpless and doing nothing,” said Lori Boyd. “Every minute counts when there is a cardiac arrest, and there are two simple steps – call 9-1-1 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest.”
Approximately 90 community members took part in CPR Saturday this year.
Each year, numerous church groups participate. The church with the largest turnout earns a free automated external defibrillator, or AED, provided by the Spartanburg Regional Foundation’s Community CPR Fund.
Make a donation to support heart health at https://regionalfoundation.com/donate-now/heart-disease/.