When an emergency happens, the first step is to call 9-1-1.
Know your address or where you are, and the dispatcher can get help on the way faster.
But people can do even more to provide care while they wait for help to arrive.
“Secure the airway, stop bleeding and CPR — Do those three things, and you can save lives," George Abels, shift supervisor with Cumberland County EMS, said.
Cumberland County reports an average response time of 9 minutes, 11 seconds from the time they receive a dispatch of a medical emergency to their arrival on scene. Those first minutes can change the outcome for the patient.
Abels noted Seattle has one of the highest rates of survival with CPR, quite possibly because the state requires everyone to earn their CPR certification when they get their driver's license.
"A lot of people may not know CPR, but they would jump in if they knew what to do," he said.
Paramedic Chris Kemmer is a CPR instructor. The department offers trainings on request, usually from organizations or businesses. The department offers the outreach as a service, though organizations do have to pay a fee for a CPR certification card.
"CPR is where it starts,” Kemmer said. "The numbers show anything over 10 minutes, the chance of reviving someone decreases.”
When someone's heart stops beating, it stops circulating oxygenated blood to the brain. The compressions in CPR help to circulate oxygynated blood. Kemmer said blood has about 8 to 10 minutes of oxygenated blood that needs to be circulated using chest compressions.
And, if someone forgets how many compressions (30) or how many breaths (2) they should be doing, the dispatcher on the other end of the phone can walk them through it.
"There is someone who can calmly tell you what needs to be done," Kemmer said.
Dan Linskens, safety manager for the Fairfield Glade Community Club, has trained more than 1,000 residents and employees on CPR, automated external defibrillators and first aid since 2017.
In 2012, he was a participant in a first aid class. The class took eight hours, required for American Heart Association certification, but was designed for people in the medical field.
“We just wanted to be community rescuers and know what to do in those first five minutes,” Linskens said.
He found a course that better fit their needs and he started offering it to employees in 2013. In 2017, the Community Club expanded the courses to include residents. The course covers CPR, bleeding control and using an AED. It also covers how to respond to various medical emergencies, like allergic reactions, stroke, heart attack, diabetic emergencies, head, neck and back injuries, choking, stroke, and heat- or cold-related emergencies.
“We talk about signs and symptoms so you can recognize something before it becomes a life-threatening situation,” Linskens said.
He also explains a person’s legal responsibility and the Good Samaritan Law, which protects people who take reasonable action in an emergency.
The Community Club has helped promote the training with mannequins and the free sessions, offered to residents a few times a month. EMS can also offer training for organizations.
“A lot of people came to our classes because they witnessed an incident, and they didn’t know what to do,” Linskens said. “Knowing what to do makes you confident.”
The county has now launched a First Responder program through the Cumberland County Fire Department. So far, about 30 volunteers have completed the training. Cumberland County Fire Chief Trevor Kerley administers the program.
"When it reaches its full potential, it will be a huge asset for the county," said Kemmer.
The city of Crossville has long offered first responder services. Several city firefighters are also paramedics and can provide emergency medical care. They answered 127 EMS calls in November, about 70% of the calls the fire department responded to.
Cumberland County Mayor Allen Foster praised the city’s program.
“They get out there quickly and are very helpful to our EMS,” Foster said.