There’s a lot to do to pass time waiting at the station for a train — read…listen to music…learn how to save a life? Yes, in the minutes it takes for a train to arrive, a person can learn Hands-Only CPR (without rescue breaths), which, according to the American Red Cross, can be as effective as traditional CPR when administered immediately.
As part of its safety education outreach, SEPTA’s System Safety Division partnered with The Mobile CPR Project to bring free hands-only CPR and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) instruction at two downtown Philadelphia commuter rail stations. Through five sessions in August and September, almost 200 people were trained in the basic skills that could help them save someone suffering from cardiac arrest.
“We transport more than one million riders a day,” said Carrie Givhan, SEPTA safety training program specialist. “There is a real possibility of encountering someone experiencing cardiac arrest while riding on or waiting for a train, bus, or trolley to arrive. Knowing basic CPR compressions can help keep someone alive until an AED is retrieved and emergency personnel arrive on the scene.”
The Mobile CPR Project was created in June 2016, funded by a three-year grant from Independence Blue Cross Foundation. The organization is part of a collective effort to break down barriers, such as cost, time, and location. The Project provides access to CPR education in Philadelphia and its surrounding counties by traveling throughout the region to teach participants how to recognize cardiac arrest, how to perform proper chest compressions, and what steps to take as a bystander.
“Our goal is to teach 10,000 people Hands-Only CPR by June 2019 and to reduce the fear some have about performing CPR on someone in need,” said Gus Totolos, project coordinator for The Mobile CPR Project. Through September, the group had reached more than 7,300 individuals.
The Mobile CPR Project was scheduled to visit Amtrak’s 30th Street Station in Philadelphia in October and SEPTA was exploring the possibility of expanding its partnership with the organization to stations located near college campuses.
CPR training on transit is not unique to the Philadelphia region. The American Heart Association and Illinois Heart Rescue brought Hands-Only CPR training to Chicago-area Metra commuters in 2017, and in Mumbai, signs posted on trains show passengers the steps to take to administer CPR. “You never know when or where a medical emergency requiring CPR might happen,” said Givhan. “Our goal is to teach our customers skills that could not only be put into use when commuting on our system, but possibly at home, at work or even when walking down the street.”
Heather Redfern is the Public Information Manager for the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority.