Picture Rocks Fire District strives to keep community safe with free CPR classes

2013-09-26T00:00:00Z 2013-10-01T16:59:25Z Picture Rocks Fire District strives to keep community safe with free CPR classesBy Phil Villarreal Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

Applying CPR as quickly as possible to someone suffering cardiac arrest can mean the difference between life and death, Picture Rocks Fire District Chief Brett Lane said. That’s why the district offers free instructional classes to the community.

Picture Rocks, an unincorporated community near Saguaro National Park West and North Sandario Road, is spread out and has many elderly residents.

“Most people come out to Picture Rocks to get away from it all,” Lane said. “We’re a half hour from the nearest hospital. When you’re out in the middle of nowhere, it takes us a while to get out there and initiate care. Sometimes we have up to a 10-minute response time.”

Firefighter Billie Moon, the district spokeswoman, volunteers her time to run the classes. In addition to a monthly class at a fire district office, she travels around the community to teach CPR to schoolchildren, coaches, teachers and church groups.

“It’s just a tool,” Moon said of CPR. “And I think probably one of our most important, in my opinion, too, that we have. It’s something we use — not on a daily basis, because fortunately we don’t have to do that — when we need it. It’s effective when you do it right and remember your training.”

CPR training is particularly important for those who care for kids or the elderly, Lane said.

“Citizens who are 16 to 28 don’t really have heart attacks too much,” he said. “It’s the young children drowning and the very old populations that are most susceptible. We have a lot of very old people who are cared for in their homes out there, and a lot of people with a live-in mother-in-law or grandmother — people that are taking care of their aging relatives.”

Moon’s classes, held the first Saturday of each month, typically draw about 10 participants. Moon said she wants to teach as many people in the community as possible.

“Whenever we have a meeting in the community, the first thing I tell everybody is there is no reason not to learn it,” she said.

“When we first start the class, I tell them I hope they don’t have to use these skills, but in the event that you do have to use them, it’s a huge resource to have.”

Moon said she considers it her responsibility to spread CPR to as many people as she can find.

“My bottom line is I want my residents to be safe,” Moon said. “If that’s what I can do, then I do it. I think education is huge for anybody. It doesn’t hurt anything to have that little bit of extra knowledge of something like CPR.”

Lane said the classes help the department serve the community more effectively.

“I think it’s a fantastic boon to the district,” he said.

“A bystander who applies CPR really increases the efficacy and survivability of cardiac events. Once people see what you can do with CPR, they think it’s fantastic. The more we can provide residents with free training, the better it is.”

Contact Phil Villarreal at pvillarreal@azstarnet.com or 573-4130.

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