Despite Record-Breaking Rain, Sidewalk CPR Event Successfully Trains 1100 Marin Residents

GREENBRAE, CA — Despite record-breaking rainfall more than four times the historical average, the Sidewalk CPR event organized by the Marin County Emergency Medical Services community on June 4th set a record of its own. Volunteers from the fire departments, EMTs, private ambulance companies, park rangers, private CPR businesses, paramedics, hospital personnel and the Marin Medical Reserve Corps trained a total 1101 individuals, increasing the number of people trained in “Hands-Only CPR” by almost 50% compared to their 2010 effort.

“As the rain tried to deter us from our goal, coming in sideways under the tents we were erecting, the volunteers seem to be more determined than ever,” said Karrie Groves, RN, of Marin County EMS Agency. Worried they would miss their goal of 1000, Groves had a brainstorm: she issued a challenge to the 12 sites where training was taking place. “Strawberry has already trained 15. . . top that!” she announced in a mass text. Within minutes texts were streaming back with numbers from the other venues—and the competition was on.

Last year, Marin’s Sidewalk CPR trained 736 persons in its first year. The group felt they could easily build that to 1000 in 2011—but they didn’t reckon with Mother Nature. So what accounts for their record-breaking success?

“This event brought our community together in an unexpected and impressive way,” said Michael Feranchak, RN, a Marin General Hospital trauma/paramedic liaison nurse.” “It’s clear that people in Marin really care about their neighbors. I think all of us were proud to live here, where people are willing to come out in a downpour to provide or take the training.”

Topping the list for numbers trained was the indoor training station next to the theater at Northgate Mall (184)—a last minute addition inspired by the weather. However, the outdoor sites also had impressive records, with Vintage Oaks (146), The Village (130) and Toby’s Feed Barn in Pt Reyes (115) turning in strong showings. Other training sites included Vista Point, Strawberry Village, Mill Valley Depot, Tiburon Ferry, Town Center, Bon Air, Red Hill Shopping Center and Tomales.

In addition to Marin General Hospital, Kaiser was a major supporter, providing signs, snacks and water for all volunteers. Marin General provided business card sized CPR instructions and chest pain warning signs literature. Marin County Fire Department Battalion Chief Mike Giannini, in charge of public information, used the department’s resources to promote the event while numerous private companies and nonprofits provided both volunteers and supplies. Giannini also made a video of the event which can be found on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=397RQ9SqfOw.

Hands-only CPR is a potentially lifesaving technique involving no mouth to mouth contact. It is best used in emergencies where someone has seen another person suddenly collapse; the hands-only technique increases the likelihood of surviving cardiac emergencies that occur outside of medical settings, and is both easier to teach and more likely to be applied than traditional CPR that includes mouth to mouth.