Avoiding the shock factor: Fire department teaches civilians how to save a life

Tusayan Fire Department offers monthly CPR and classes, next class April 20

Firefighter Molly Woolley, who teaches Tusayan Fire Department's monthly CPR classes, said all ages can participate and become certified in CPR. (Erin Ford/WGCN)

Firefighter Molly Woolley, who teaches Tusayan Fire Department's monthly CPR classes, said all ages can participate and become certified in CPR. (Erin Ford/WGCN)

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Molly Woolley demonstrates how to give chest compressions during CPR. Tusayan Fire Department is offering monthly CPR classes. (Erin Ford/WGCN)

TUSAYAN, Ariz. — As visitation to the Grand Canyon begins to climb into peak season, the Tusayan Fire department is offering visitors and residents the opportunity to become supervised in CPR during monthly classes at the station.

Firefighter and emergency medical technician Molly Woolley said the class can prepare anyone for situations they might encounter on the trails or simply in their jobs. The course teaches participants how to perform manual chest compressions and breathing, as well as an automated external defibrillator, or AED device. The course also covers how to assist someone who may be choking.

Woolley said almost as importantly as teaching the proper CPR methods, the course gives participants a list of things to do so they aren’t caught in a panic moment if they come across someone who needs help.

“If they see someone down, they will know to check for breathing, check for responsiveness, say ‘Hey, can you hear me?’” Woolley said. “If they’re not breathing or responsive, then the person is taught to call 911 and do chest compressions."

Woolley said there have been incidents both locally and in the park where someone needed help and bystanders didn’t do anything because none of them knew what to do.

“This gets people out of the shock factor of ‘I don’t know what to do’ by giving them tools like checking breathing or responsiveness and calling 911. It gives them a process,” she said.

The course also teaches participants how to attach and use and AED device. Woolley dispelled some myths about the device commonly seen on television to illustrate why the chest compressions and breaths are so important.

“If a person is not breathing or not responsive, you can assume that their heart has stopped or is going to stop,” she said. “You are acting as their heart (by doing compressions). The compressions are providing a rhythm for the AED to shock into.”

In other words, the AED can’t do anything with a flatline. The person performing CPR needs to keep pushing oxygenated blood to the brain and vital organs while helping the heart restart its rhythm.

Woolley said anyone can perform CPR — even children, provided they have the strength to do the compressions. She said many local employers send their employees to the courses so they are prepared for an emergency situation.

Fire department receives equipment grants

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The Tusayan Fire Department recently received a grant for new wildland fire equipment from the U.S. Forest Service. (Erin Ford/WGCN)

The Tusayan Fire Department also recently received two grants to purchase new equipment.

The department received a grant from the U.S. Forest Service for new wildland fire equipment, including new uniforms, packs, helmets, goggles, gloves, a drip torch and emergency fire shelters.

The department also received a grant from the Ak Chin Indian Community for just over $5,000, which was used to purchase a water monitor.

Assistant fire chief Ray D’Albini said the water monitor acts as an artificial firefighter, holding the hose and spraying water at up to 500 gallons per minute in a fixed or oscillating location. D’Albini said the water monitor can be hooked up to a hose and left to run while firefighters perform other duties at a structure fire. The water monitor would most likely be used to prevent a structure fire from spreading to nearby buildings or to help cool the building for fire personnel to enter.

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