Wednesday, October 29, 2014 12:00 AM

No mouth-to-mouth needed. Compression only saves lives.

The Bee Gee’s 1977 disco beat “Stayin’ Alive” can help do just that when health educators teach a new way to save a life. Community Medical Centers is teaming up with American Ambulance to spread the word about how to respond if you see someone who has suddenly collapsed: Call 9-1-1, then lock your elbows and press down hard and fast in the middle of the collapsed person’s chest, and hum “Stayin’ Alive.” The iconic disco tune bops along at 100 beats a minute, the perfect rhythm for compression-only CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.)

After studying the 885 cardiac arrest patients treated by ambulance crews in 2013 in Fresno County, American Ambulance found when bystanders jumped in right away to do chest compressions it doubled the chance of survival. But bystander CPR is low in most cities; usually less than a third of the time will people step up to help. Hands-only CPR works just as well as mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and eliminates the reason many bystanders hesitate to help. Plus compression-only CPR is easier to learn.

Community sponsored compression-only CPR training at the recent Binational Health Week event at the Cesar Chavez Adult Education Center. American Ambulance trainers gave instructions in English and Spanish while those learning the technique tried it on red and blue plastic dummies. Tommie Martinez, a teacher at the school, said she recently saw a woman collapse at a restaurant and the woman’s husband stood frozen with shock while his wife’s lips turned blue, until finally another restaurant patron came to their aid. “That was a wakeup call for me … I was almost in tears,” she said. Martinez said she came to learn CPR so she would feel prepared for the next emergency situation.

Reported by Erin Kennedy. Reach her at