Lending a hand to save a life

Most heart attacks occur outside of a hospital. Meet a nurse who is preparing others to save lives using Hands-Only CPR.

Serving as the nurse manager of the emergency department at Norton Audubon Hospital keeps Renée Cecil, R.N., on her toes, but it’s taking on the personal challenge of teaching Hands-Only CPR that keeps her hopping.

“As a nurse I see the devastation caused by a heart attack and empathize with family and friends who wish they could have done more to save their loved one,” Cecil said. “I want people to feel prepared for when something happens near them.”

Annually, more than 326,000 cardiac arrests in the United States occur outside a hospital, according to the American Heart Association (AHA). Ninety percent of those people will die. CPR can double or triple the chance of survival, especially when performed immediately.

As a bystander, don’t be afraid to step in. Your actions can only help. The AHA recommends that people who see a teen or adult suddenly collapse use Hands-Only CPR. It consists of two easy steps:

  • Call 911 (or ask someone else to call). 
  • Push hard and fast in the center of the chest.

“Hands-Only CPR emphasizes a consistent, rapid rate of compressions,” Cecil said. “During group trainings we learn the technique while listening to familiar songs like ‘Stayin’ Alive,’ which is the perfect match for the recommended 100 compressions per minute needed to keep the heart pumping.”

Cecil also stressed the importance of calling 911 immediately and knowing the early warning signs of a heart attack, which may be different for men and women.

Norton Healthcare offers free Hands-Only CPR classes called “Friends and Family CPR.” Find a list of classes and register here.


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