Two Arizonans a day die from an opioid overdose. As this becomes a severe national epidemic, knowing CPR is more important than ever.
The opioid epidemic has affected more people than ever. The number of deaths in Arizona is at its highest in 10 years and Maricopa County has reached a total of 2,199 deaths this year.
Mark Cichocki, captain and paramedic at Rural Metro Fire Department, has seen an increase in drug overdoses throughout the years.
“We’ve seen a rapid increase in opioid overdoses. They seem to be amongst the 20-year-olds. Of the last four times I’ve done CPR, two were opioid overdoses,” Cichocki said. “It is becoming increasingly important to protect the ones we love, especially for those in a college town like Tempe.”
In Arizona, there are many public safety groups that offer CPR training, however, Cichocki teaches the same types of people every week.
“Our classes are open to the public; anybody can come. I start off my class by having everyone introduce themselves and state why they are here. At the end, I notice what everyone has in common,” Cichocki said. “Ninety-nine percent of the time, what we all have in common is that everyone in the class has to be there. I always think, ‘Man, where is everyone that is not required?’”
Citizens pursuing or in a medical field, public safety field, or in a fitness field are those attending CPR classes. Each of these professions requires their employees to know how to perform CPR.
With the rise in drug overdoses, students, civilians, and more need to start attending, according to Cichocki.
Pascale Bushaw, a CPR certified civilian, is frightened by the rising number of drug overdoses in Arizona. Bushaw said that she would feel safer as a college student if more people were informed.
“College students don’t feel the need to be certified because they might have taken an informational 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, therefore more of them should be certified,” Bushaw said.
Many college campuses offer CPR training. It is easier than ever for students to get involved. Students who are CPR certified have the opportunity to apply for positions such as lifeguards.
Arizonans have many opportunities to become CPR certified through courses all around the state. Brenda Van Slyke, owner of Horizon Safety Training, advocates for the safety of her state as her business teaches 13 different safety courses.
“I recommend all ages getting CPR certified because you never know when you are going to come across a situation where somebody may need it. I have a saying I stand by. It’s better to know it and not to need it, then to need it and not know it,” Van Slyke said.
One of the most important reasons to become CPR certified is that some situations such as a heart attack or drug overdoses require immediate help. If no one near the situation knows how to perform CPR, the individual affected is left waiting for professional help.
“Nationally, the statistics on people knowing how to do CPR is unbelievably low. People just don’t know how to do it, unless they have been directly affected by it,” Cichocki said. “The sad thing is, most of the time when we show up to your house, nobody will be doing it. You’ll just be laying there because your neighbors aren’t going to know how to help.”
By learning CPR, civilians would not only be helping a national epidemic, but they would be potentially saving those around them.
In certain cases, the situation may require paramedics to teach citizens how to perform CPR over the phone due to a lack of time. This makes a stressful situation even more challenging and could give the person affected less of a chance to recover.
“I’ve seen all types of people affected. If you have water around your house there is a potential drowning. If you work in a crowded area, then you should know CPR,” Cichocki said. “If you go to school or you’re a college student, you should know. Nowadays with all the crazy stuff going on, you may even go to a concert and need to know.”