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MedStar Health Partners with AKA Sorority Chapter and Montgomery County Fire and Rescue for CPR/AED Video Premiere and Training

Over the weekend, attendees received instruction from MedStar Health physicians and members of the Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service on how to perform CPR and use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). During the event, a brand-new CPR/AED training video produced by MedStar Health in partnership with the AKA chapter debuted.

According to the American Heart Association, each year, approximately 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States alone. Unfortunately, only about 10% of those who suffer cardiac arrests outside the hospital survive. This is important to note for CPR/AED Awareness Month in June because — according to studies — women, Black and Hispanic adults are least likely to receive CPR from a bystander outside of the hospital setting. 

Alpha Kappa Alpha is the first intercollegiate historically African American sorority and was founded in 1908 at Howard University.

"By equipping ourselves with the tools and training to perform CPR and use an AED, we can make a tangible difference in our community," said Estelle Jean, a board-certified cardiologist with MedStar Health and the CPR/AED instructor in the new video. "Members of Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service share our commitment to community safety and were invaluable partners in this CPR/AED training event."

"What we have very little control over is what happens between the time when someone is discovered to be in cardiac arrest and the time we get there," said Assistant Chief Tim Burns, chief training officer, MCFRS. "That's a crucial period when the heart has stopped, their brain is not getting oxygen, and they're actively dying. It's very important that CPR starts as soon as possible and bridges that gap until we can get there to provide more advanced resuscitative techniques and bring them to the hospital."

Contrary to popular belief, you do not need to be certified and mouth-to-mouth is no longer needed to jump in and help save a life with CPR. 

"We want to share the message of how easy it is to use bystander CPR and how easy it is to learn it," said Michelle Gill, president, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Theta Omega Omega Chapter, which is based in Montgomery County, Maryland. "I took the training myself and I feel empowered. I feel ready to go. Hopefully, I won't need to use it, but if I do, I feel like I can help. I have the confidence to help someone in need."

Derrick Smith of Montgomery County attended the training event because both of his parents died as the result of heart disease. When his father collapsed with a fatal heart attack, his wife didn't know how to perform CPR.  "I can only imagine how helpless she felt in that moment to see my father laying there and there's nothing she could do to help him," said Smith.  "I never want to be in that position where I feel helpless.  To come out and do this training was big for me."

"This is about educating our members and community members on the importance of CPR training," said Adaeze Enekwechi, PhD, a member of the Theta Omega Omega Chapter of AKA and a member of the MedStar Health Board of Directors. "Any one of us can find ourselves in a place where somebody needs help. Knowing what to do is that difference between having a catastrophic event versus saving a life."

At the age of 90, Velma Buckner, also of the AKA Theta Omega Omega Chapter was one of the most senior members in attendance and one of  the "learners" in the video.  She appreciated the intergenerational energy of the event. "We're a community service organization and our whole lives are spent helping our communities," said Buckner.  "For more than 100 years our main focus is being aware of our duties in our community. And CPR training is one of them."

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