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New lifesafers trained at CPR Saturday

Chuck Erickson, at left, and Veda Kropp, perform chest compressions at one of the five seminars held Saturday in Park Rapids. The “hands only” session does not use mouth-to-mouth breathing. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)1 / 3
Cheryl Sorenson’s husband, Mark, had a massive heart attack July 25 on a Park Rapids golf course. She took the CPR course with a friend. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)2 / 3
Richard Bilger, a Lakeport First Responder, taught the five classes offered last weekend. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)3 / 3

By Sarah Smith

Dozens of freshly trained lifesavers now inhabit Hubbard County after successfully completing “CPR Saturday,” a countywide initiative to give residents basic lifesaving skills.

Kids, seniors and everyone in between attended the courses offered at Hubbard First Responders new headquarters in Park Rapids. Many contributed funds to the volunteer organization that responds to all accidents and incidents.

Classes were held every hour for five hours to accommodate all schedules.

Teacher Richard Bilger, a Lakeport First Responder, was recounting how the ball got rolling after a Park Rapids man had a massive heart attack recently on an area golf course.

“That was my husband,” said Cheryl Sorenson, whose husband, Mark, suffered an SCA, a sudden cardiac arrest, while golfing July 25.

Cheryl and friend CoCo Cohrs attended one of the classes. Her husband’s attack has become well-known throughout the community.

Sorenson said her husband had a bypass operation and is recovering, sad his golf season came to a premature end.

But she also reported that Mark Sorenson’s chest is still sore from the CPR many volunteers performed on him that day until the ambulance could get to him.

Responders who attended and assisted at the classes said that is to be expected, but is preferable to death.

Attendees learned how strenuous it is to administer CPR. Bilger advised them to switch off every minute so as not to get over-tired.

Professionals switch off every two minutes, the responders said.

Students also learned how to administer shocks with a portable defibrillator. Many public buildings now have one.

Bilger took students through the steps to use one, which does not require any prior training.

The machines are smart enough to pause and repeat directions if the human doesn’t seem to be working along with the instructions.

“These are really smart machines,” Bilger said.

“We decided we’re going to do this every summer, get the snowbirds involved,” said Responder Jason Johnson.

Chuck Erickson and Veda Kropp stood at what they called “the bad knees table” with their dummies three feet off the floor.

Erickson said he’d taken a CPR course about 10 years ago but wanted to brush up on his skills.

“CPR primes the heart muscle for a couple minutes” until professional medics can reach a victim, Bilger said, estimating he’s trained roughly 10,000 people in CPR.

“When you collapse you have eight to ten minutes of oxygen in your system,” Bilger told his classes.

He instructed students to place their hands “dead center in the middle of your chest” rather than placing hands over your hearteHe

Like you would do to say the Pledge of Allegiance.

“Any CPR is better than no CPR,” he said, reminding students that all 50 states have Good Samaritan laws that prevent victims from suing lifesavers.

“Good Samaritan laws protect you for doing nothing,” he said, urging students not to take that option. “You can’t be sued for doing CPR the wrong way.”

He told students not to start CPR if the person is still breathing. If a victim is in bed, get them onto the floor.

But the first step is to call 911.

Then the drill begins.

“Hey, hey, hey are you okay?” Bilger urged students, gently prodding the victim for signs of life.

Then the chest compressions begin.

As for Mark Sorenson, he will now celebrate his birthday on July 25, the day he was brought back to life.

And beginning next year, all Minnesota 16-year-olds must complete a CPR course to become licensed as a driver.

Sarah Smith

Sarah Smith is the outdoors editor. She covers courts, business and breaking news in addition to outdoors events.

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