Foundation seeks a HEARTSafe Community

The Holy Rosary Foundation has its sights set on making Miles City a HEARTSafe Community.

And, in the attempt to help the city achieve the distinguished American Heart Association designation, the group is gunning to train 1,000 volunteers in hands-only CPR, as well as increase the supply of heart defibrillators in public buildings around town.

The underlying motive is to save lives, said Jackie Muri of the Foundation, which supports Holy Rosary Healthcare, including the hospital, in Miles City. Immediate care using chest compressions or a defibrillator, a device which jump starts the heart, is often essential to surviving cardiac arrest, she said.

Muri cites some sobering American Heart Association statistics that reveal about 70 percent of Americans feel helpless to act when encountering a heart attack victim due to a lack of knowledge about CPR, or fear that they will cause additional harm to the victim.

That’s too bad, because about 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital heart attacks perish. The good news, Muri said, is that CPR “can triple the chance of survival.”

To date the Foundation’s efforts, conducted in conjunction with the Heart Association and St. Vincent Healthcare, have been a two-pronged attack on heart disease in rural Montana.

The Foundation, through public training sessions, is promoting the use of hands-only CPR, which eliminates the mouth-to-mouth breathing involved in traditional CPR.

“It’s easy to learn; two simple steps,” Muri said of hands-only CPR. “Step one, you call 911; step two, you give firm, consistent pumps to the chest to the beat of (the song) Staying Alive.”

That fact helps make the training sessions fun, Muri said, noting they come complete with disco music.

Dozens of local residents have been trained at community events including the Holy Rosary Family Olympics and the PRCA Rodeo at the Eastern Montana Fair.

The free training takes about five minutes, and is easily remembered. Just in case, participants are given take-home materials for reference.

Muri said the Foundation is offering free training sessions to groups of 20 or more at businesses, agencies, schools and nonprofits within 50 miles of Miles City.

“We’d love to train 1,000 people,” Muri said. “That’s our goal.” Call (406) 233-4043 to inquire about a training session.

The Foundation is also working to increase the supply of defibrillators in the community, and is taking an inventory of defibrillators in town in order to determine where more might be needed.

It recently donated the devices for five high-traffic locations in the city — the Custer County Courthouse, the Miles City City Hall, First Presbyterian Church, the Eastern Montana Fairgrounds, and the Range Riders Museum. A defibrillator was also given to the Prairie County Clinic in Terry.

Muri said the defibrillators were delivered, and dozens of workers and officials at each location were trained in the use of the devices, which will allow them to resuscitate victims wherever defibrillators are found.