Town employees learn life-saving lessons at CPR training

Town employees practice CPR chest compressions on mannequins at a recent training course provided by Greenwich Emergency Medical Services at Town Hall.

Town employees practice CPR chest compressions on mannequins at a recent training course provided by Greenwich Emergency Medical Services at Town Hall. — John Ferris Robben photo

A dozen town employees, led by First Selectman Peter Tesei, quickly swung into action and performed CPR on patients lying helpless on the floor.

No lives were at stake, as the town employees were undergoing CPR training offered through Greenwich Emergency Medical Services (GEMS). The event was held at the Town Hall Meeting Room on Dec. 10.

For Mr. Tesei, it was the second time he has undergone the training. The first was about four years ago after newly elected Democratic Selectman Drew Marzullo joined the Board of Selectmen. Mr. Marzullo, a paramedic since 1996, is a field supervisor with GEMS. He was not present for the latest training.

Mr. Tesei said the event was a good refresher course for him.

“I thought today was extremely helpful in increasing my level of understanding and comfort with performing CPR. I have less apprehension versus the first time, where I thought I could be doing something wrong. Today’s session helped clear up any misconceptions I might have had about performing certain aspects of it,” he said.

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is an emergency procedure to assist someone who has suffered cardiac arrest. A person trained in CPR is able to provide immediate assistance by placing pressure on an individual’s chest in order to keep blood moving.

The aim of CPR is to delay “tissue death” by sending oxygenated blood to the brain and heart to provide time for more extensive medical procedures such as using a defibrillator to shock the patient’s heart to try to resume a heart rhythm.

It can be physically demanding, as the class found as they repeatedly pressed down with one hand on top of the other on the heart area of their mannequins.

Sean Cardwell, a civil engineer with the town, said he had never been in an environment to see CPR performed, other than viewing the occasional scene of it in a television show. He was intrigued by the complexity of what initially appears to be a simple procedure.

“The little amount that I knew about CPR, the process, the hand placement, the learning process of what I didn’t know,” he said. “It wasn’t shocking or surprising, it’s just that I didn’t know.”
Mr. Cardwell said it has given him the initial training to perform CPR if called upon.

“I will take a refresher course, but I am not apprehensive to perform CPR. I will do it if necessary.”
Mr. Tesei said he will be speaking with GEMS to see if it can offer annual training for town employees. He said he wants the pool of trained employees to increase, especially since Town Hall is not only staffed with dozens of employees but is also a community hub to which town residents and visitors flock every day.

“Given that there are a lot of people who come through this building on a daily basis, I thought it was an important exercise to conduct, and I think it should be done annually,” Mr. Tesei said.
The event was led by GEMS employees Andres Moreira and Janice Delvecchio, who said Greenwich Emergency Medical Services performs about 70 CPRs per year.

As part of their training, the class used an automated external defibrillator (AED). It is a portable electronic device that applies an electric shock to enable the heart to re-establish an effective rhythm to pump blood through the body.

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