Arizona’s drug overdoses are increasing at an alarming rate, which is why becoming cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) certified is more important than ever.
According to the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, last year the state had the highest number of deaths, because of opioid abuse, in more than a decade.
CPR can be a lifesaving technique to restore oxygenated blood flow to the vital organs, if someone stops breathing or if their heart stops beating.
“With the fire service and emergency medical services, in the state of Arizona we have seen a rapid increase in opioid overdoses, and they seem to be among the 20-year olds,” said Mark Cichocki, the captain/paramedic at Rural Metro Fire Department.
When someone overdoses on drugs, there is a domino effect on the body. First, the drug spreads, then their breathing slows, then their heart stops beating properly, and then the body stops to shut down. According to American CPR Training TM, the earlier CPR is initiated, the greater the chances of survival.
With the increasing opioid overdoses, CPR is more important than ever, yet not everyone is certified.
“Everyone in my CPR classes has to be there. There are nursing students, future firemen, some kind of medical professional, personal trainers. Where’s everyone that’s not required?” Cichocki said.
He brings up a critical question, that far too many people never ask themselves.
“I have a saying. It’s that it’s better to know it and not need it, then to need it and not know it,” Brenda Van Slyke, owner of Horizon Safety Training, said.
Horizon Safety Training offers classes in person, online, and performs sessions at business locations in attempt to get as many people certified as they can.
Cichocki recalls that majority of the time, when his team responds to a call, it is very rare to see a bystander performing CPR.
“We’ve gotten into this hands only CPR and that was to help people that don’t know, so they can learn it quickly. But the problem is, you can only imagine if your friend or family member passes away, you call 9-1-1 to report it…it’s just not a good time to learn CPR. You have too much emotion,” Cichocki.
When a situation arises where CPR is necessary, it is already high intensity. Even more so when none of the bystanders know what to do.
“I think people need to be CPR certified, considering the increasing number of drug overdoses. If nobody is CPR certified, there will be less time to save that person’s life,” Pascale Bushaw, CPR certified civilian, said.
Last year 5,202 Arizonians suffered a suspected overdose on opioids and 512 died of a suspected opioid overdose, according to the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act.
“College students don’t normally feel the need to get certified because they may have taken a course in high school or just don’t see the purpose. This is frightening because the increase in drug overdoses is a huge issue. Young adults are more likely to be around drugs because of the party scene, and because of that more of them should be certified,” Bushaw said.
Many young adults face the pressures of doing drugs, but CPR is always a second thought.
“Unless they have been directly affected by it or they have heard about it, they just don’t know CPR,” Cichocki said.
Although not everyone being CPR certified is not the case right now, with the overdose epidemic, more people may come to realize how necessary it truly is.
“I recommend all ages getting certified because you never know when you are going to come across a situation where somebody may need it,” Van Slyke said.
For more information on the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act: