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DHA recognizes CPR & AED Awareness Week

Images of soldiers practicing CPR on dummies U.S. Air Force Airmen learn how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation during an adult CPR and automated external defibrillator class at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Feb. 4, 2020. The 86th Medical Group education and training program has 40 CPR instructors across Ramstein and several geographically separated units. Active-duty service members with duty requirements and personnel seeking to become physical training leaders may sign up for CPR and AED classes or other life-saving courses. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Elizabeth Baker)

The first week in June is CPR and AED Awareness Week. These vital skills remain a staple across the Department of Defense, and specifically for healthcare providers within the Military Health System.

All MHS clinical personnel receive training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR; and the automated external defibrillator or AED. The Defense Health Agency J-7 Education and Training Directorate requires both as part of basic life support training.

“We also offer first aid, CPR, and AED training to nonmedical Department of Defense members through DHA’s strategic partnership with the American Red Cross,” explained Navy Cmdr. Thomas Sather, DHA’s life support training manager and assistant professor at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences.

“CPR and defibrillator training is about readiness and force capability,” said Dr. Gillian Schmitz, USU associate professor in the Department of Military and Emergency Medicine and an advanced life support instructor at Brook Army Medical Center and USUHS. “Early defibrillation and good CPR save lives.”

All clinical personnel in the MHS must remain current in basic life support skills, including CPR and AED training. This means taking a refresher course every two years, which can include continuing education credit. There are different levels of the class for different clinical specialties, but the basics are critical for everyone.

“We know basic skills can easily erode without practice,” said Schmitz. “All military personnel should practice CPR and AED skills.”

Advanced life support courses are available for critical care providers, emergency department personnel, anesthesia personnel, and other specialties. These skills are critical for nonmedical personnel as well.

“Service members proficient in CPR and AED are a medical force multiplier,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Jon Sinclair, director, Military Training Network, DHA J-7. “Initiating these practices early increases the chances of survivability.”

When performed appropriately, CPR and AED use within minutes of an initial cardiac event increases survival rates by nearly 50%, according to research reported by the Cardiac Arrest Registry to Enhance Survival, also known as CARES. Every minute of cardiac arrest without CPR or defibrillation drops the patient’s chance of survival by 7% to 10%.

Schmitz emphasizes the importance of regular training in these techniques, especially for military members.

“It’s not just for critical care providers. Cardiac arrest can happen anywhere,” said Schmitz. “It can happen in the field, in a training exercise or even in the workplace or at home. Proper training empowers people to save lives.”

DoD members interested in life support training can contact their local military treatment facility life support program coordinator, MTF office of continuing education, or e-mail the J-7 Military Training Network.

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

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