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Bend Fire Dept. says public's help is saving lives

Bystander CPR - and 911 dispatchers - are crucial

Bystander CPR saving lives in Bend

BEND, Ore. - Cardiac-arrest survival rates in Bend have skyrocketed over the years, and the fire department wants to thank the public. Fire Chief Larry Langston recently said bystander CPR is making all the difference. 

He said in 1994, their save rate was about 20 percent, but in 2016 it was just over 70 percent -- well above the national average of 33.9 percent. 

Petar Hossick, EMS training captain for Bend Fire and Rescue, said Deschutes County 911 dispatch has a lot to do with the increase in survivability.

“Dispatchers will give you telephone CPR instructions," Hossick said Wednesday. “Our dispatch center is one of the best in the country. They are very aggressive about getting those instructions out, and downstream we see the effects, because we’re seeing many more survivors.”

Hossick said timing is everything, and the first few minutes are crucial. He said every minute without CPR reduces a person’s chance of survival by 20 percent. Usually, the fire and police departments won’t make this window, but bystanders can. 

Wendy Erfurt was one of these life-saving bystanders when she sprang into action last Thursday. Her co-worker, Thomas Provalenko went into cardiac arrest on the job at Fred Meyer. 

“All I saw were his feet sticking out around the produce section,” she said. “Came around the corner and he was not (conscious). So I just pulled his apron over his head, had one of the produce guys cut open his shirt with a box knife, and a co-worker, Jeff, brought the AED (automatic external defbrilator) machine. We hooked him up, and I just began CPR.”

Erfurt said Provalenko is now on the road to recovery. She said managers at Fred Meyer are trained in CPR and encourage others to be as well.

“You never know when you’re going to need to use it,” she said.

Hossick said the fire department has been working to realize the same vision. He said he would like to see a “CPR army in Bend.” The department offers free classes and has trained an additional 160 people in the last eight months. 

The classes are every first Wednesday of the month. Call the Bend Fire Department to make an appointment, at 541-322-6300.

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