Fairfield County Neighbors Give Hands To CPR Event

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A young woman practices CPR. Photo Credit: Flickr/Langara Voice

FAIRFIELD COUNTY, Conn. – Erin Halsey and Paul Arcario know firsthand the value of CPR education. When the Norwalk residents found out about Saturday’s Hands For Life event at Chelsea Piers in Stamford, they jumped at the opportunity to help make the event a success.

Hands For Life will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Chelsea Piers. In 15 minutes, people can learn hands-only CPR. The objective is train 10,000 adults in CPR. According to the organization’s website, the event can double the survival from cardiac arrest victims in the community. To date, the highest number of individuals trained in CPR involved 7,909 participants by the Singapore Heart Foundation in 2011. Hands For Life in Stamford is attempting to shatter that mark.

Halsey and Arcario are all for it. They have lived with and seen the benefits of CPR training. Saturday’s event is one way they can give back.

Halsey, who works for the city of Norwalk, has a son with aortic stenosis, a valve abnormality. She strives to raise awareness to CPR training and education at every opportunity. “It’s too important,’’ Halsey said. “Skeptics may say what will you learn in 15 minutes. Well, you can learn a lot. Trying to do something like this is phenomenal.”

Halsey has traveled to Hartford several times urging lawmakers to provide defibrillators in schools. She learned CPR when she was a teenager from her mother, who was a nurse. “The No. 1 question people Google is warning signs for a heart attack,’’ Halsey said. “By the time you Google it, it could be too late. What Hands For Life is doing is fabulous.”

Arcario agrees. He met Dr. Thomas Nero, one of the organizers of Saturday's event, last November, when he had his aortic valve replaced. “He actually saved my life,’’ Arcario said. “If it wasn’t for him, I probably wouldn’t be here right now.”

When Nero asked Arcario to volunteer at Hands For Life, he happily agreed. He doesn’t know precisely what role he’ll have on Saturday. He does know the objective is important.

“We have to get as many people aware as we can,’’ Arcario said. “You have to learn how to first diagnose, then dial 911, then compression. You don’t have to give mouth-to-mouth. Those fist 10 minutes in the beginning are the most important in saving a person’s life and keeping air going to the brain.”

People ages 16-and-up can register online at the Hands For Life website. Shuttle buses will also run from Stamford High School and St. Mary’s Church on Elm Street. 

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