BEND, Ore. - It starts with a phone call.
"With every 911 call, we need to know the location of the incident so we can get you the help you need," said Megan Craig, training coordinator for Deschutes County 911.
At Deschutes County 911, dispatch responders are trained to help you.
"When someone reports that someone is unconscious and not sure on breathing, we will immediately go into CPR instructions," Craig said. "And then we'll ask them to count out loud with us, so that the pace of those compressions will be most effective for the patient."
All of that, with a a goal of under 60 seconds.
"Ideally we want to get the location, the phone number and know what's going on so that it can be dispatched in under a minute," Craig said.
"All these cardiac arrest calls are super-time sensitive. It is the most time-sensitive call that we get, as far as emergency medical, and it's the equivalent of a structure fire to us," said Petar Hossick, a firefighter/paramedic with the Bend Fire Department.
It's not just a few paramedics who respond. A cardiac arrest call takes an army.
"Normally these calls take an ambulance, an engine and a squad, so that will be about 7-8 guys, plus usually an officer," Hossick said.
Over the past year, the Bend Fire Department has attempted to resuscitate 57 people suffering a heart attack.
It may not seem like a lot, but with tight resources, one call can strip the department.
"Right now, it's taking longer to get to these calls, and we don't have minutes to give when it comes to cardiac arrest," Hossick said.
That's where your help can make all the difference. Unfortunately, only about a third of Americans know how to administer CPR properly.
The American Heart Association wants to change that.
"By having that muscle memory behind you from taking a course, you're more likely to perform a more proficient CPR," said Amber Hossick, the chief operating officer of Code Ready Training.
CPR has changed a lot over the last four years. The American Heart Association now teaches hands-only CPR -- No more mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.
"You need a hard, flat surface, then you need to find the center of the chest, push hard and push fast, and make sure that they fully let the chest pop back up," Hossick said.
Timing really is everything. If you push too slow, your work will be ineffective.
"It really is that perfect sweet spot of about 100-120 beats per minute," she said.
Don't give up until help arrives.
"When we look back at our survival rates, every single time there's been a bystander doing CPR there. The public is so important to this piece," Petar Hossick said.
Just like the firefighters and paramedics, for the hospital staff, a cardiac arrest means it's all hands on deck.
"We could have 20 people in one room, trying to save this person's life," said Darin Durham, the director of emergency services at St. Charles.
Doctors at St. Charles Bend say they see the same situation all the time -- denial.
"'No, this couldn't be a heart attack, because it can't happen to me' -- we see it over and over, and people ignore those things, and it's something that had they been aware of it and not been in denial and sought medical treatment, their outcome could have been much different," Durham said.
A solution? Recognize the symptoms early.
Heavy chest pain, pain running up and down your arm and into your jaw, nausea, and a sweaty or clammy feeling are all classic symptoms of a heart attack.
Cardiologists at St. Charles preach that being heart-healthy can not only save you a trip to the emergency room, it can save your life.
"Fifty percent of the population dies of heart disease. Still, the best way to avoid a heart attack is to be proactive long before the first symptoms," said Dr. Bruce McLellan, a cardiologist at St. Charles.
Now, technology is making it easier for strangers to save a life. The Bend Fire Department is working on installing a new app called PulsePoint.
It's synced up with Deschutes County 911 dispatch to alert you when someone within a half-mile from you is having a heart attack and needs CPR.
It should be ready to use in the late spring or early summer.
Save a life, learn CPR and be aware -- and you can become a hero.
"If you can be doing compressions on the chest before we get there, you are doing us a huge favor, and the public really becomes the hero in this scenario," Hossick said.
Visit codereadytraining.com , http://www.stcharleshealthcare.org/Classes/CPR.aspx or redcross.org/or/bend for info on CPR training classes.