Nursing professor and students take lifesaving skills beyond the classroom

By Eilene E. Guy, American Red Cross volunteer

March 4, 2020- Let’s say you’re enjoying a quiet evening at home with family or friends and one of you suffers a cardiac emergency. Dr. Mariann Harding wants to increase the odds that someone there can give the victim—possibly you—a fighting chance to live.

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Dr. Harding is a professor of nursing technology at the Kent State University (KSU) Tuscarawas campus. So all her students are learning the critical skills to handle such an emergency. Now she’s discovered a way to expand that number of responders many times over.

This year, through the American Red Cross, 18 members of her nursing honor society are presenting Hands-Only CPR. They are teaching non-medical members of their communities how to maintain vital circulation in a stricken person until trained responders arrive.

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“Our goal is 200 people touched with this training this year,” said the professor, who likes to be called Mariann. “It’s going very smoothly. I think we’re going to make it.”

Mariann became acquainted with the Red Cross two and a half years ago by way of a local leadership workshop. She decided she could bring something worthwhile to the organization with her medical and educator background.

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She joined the board of her local Stark and Muskingum Lakes Chapter and learned about the many preparedness and prevention programs of the Red Cross, including Hands-Only CPR. She realized her students would be ideal volunteer teachers to spread the word about this lifesaving technique.

Hands-Only CPR done by a bystander is recognized as being as effective as CPR with rescue breaths for the first crucial minutes after a cardiac event. “It’s better to use a stopgap that’s 90 percent effective than to do nothing,” Mariann said of the hands-only technique.

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KSU provided a grant to buy compression training “torsos” for her project. Last year she and 16 honor nursing students taught nearly 230 people—from teenagers to elderly churchgoers. She’s convinced, “Everybody can do something.”

The project has given her nursing students a shot of confidence in their own abilities to build healthier communities, and it’s introduced them to other Red Cross programs. “One of my students signed up to help with the smoke alarm installations and another one is interested in becoming a presenter for the safe sitter program.”

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As for Mariann, “I’m so enjoying my involvement with the Red Cross. I look forward to doing more.”

To learn about the many Red Cross programs that empower Americans to prevent, prepare for and respond to emergencies, or to become a volunteer, visit redcross.org or contact your local Red Cross chapter.

Edited by Glenda Bogar, American Red Cross volunteer

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