COLUMBIA − Boone Health hosted its first of five CPR trainings Wednesday with the goal of pushing the importance of learning hands-only CPR. 

"Hands-only CPR is just a quick CPR that you can learn in just a few minutes," Lisa Todd, the community wellness coordinator at Boone Health, said. "It doesn't have a cost associated. We've found that any little bit that they can do, if we can get bystanders to do something right away, then we save lives."

Todd, a former training officer in the Columbia Fire Department, said she had given CPR in the past and emphasized that if CPR is not given in the first four to six minutes after cardiac arrest, the brain can begin to die. 

On Jan. 2, Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin suffered cardiac arrest after a collision during a Monday Night Football game against the Cincinnati Bengals. Hamlin's heartbeat was restored on the field after a trainer initiated CPR and automated external defibrillation (AED). Hamlin was discharged from the hospital nine days after the incident. 

"I think that he [Hamlin] did so well because they did know to perform CPR," Todd said. "They immediately started CPR and started taking care of him. If we can get CPR started immediately that keeps the oxygen circulated and they have a much higher chance of recovery."

Wednesday's participants learned from the coordinators the importance of learning CPR and the dangers of what could happen to someone suffering cardiac arrest without proper training. Participants then practiced giving hands-only CPR to mannequins and received an AED demonstration.

"We have the AED machines at church, and I had no idea how to use one before today," Centralia resident Steve Gordon said. "One of the things I was concerned about was my wife and I are both over 70 years old, and we're together a lot, and if one of us needs to take care of the other, it will be handy."

More than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur annually in the United States and nearly 90% of those are fatal, according to the American Heart Association.

"These trainers did a phenomenal job," Gordon said. "If you haven't taken a class, come down and do it."

Boone Health will be hosting additional free CPR trainings at the Activity and Recreation Center in Columbia and the Ashland Optimist Club over the next week. 

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