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Life-saving event

Each day, more than 95 percent of Americans who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest will die before reaching the hospital. That equates to more than 600 deaths a day, 222,000 annually.

Learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation is an important way the general public can improve the survival rate for victims of cardiac arrest, according to the American Heart Association. Approximately only 5 percent of cardiac arrest victims survive, but a person's chance for survival doubles if effective CPR is performed immediately.

Learning CPR literally could mean the difference between the life and death of a friend or loved one.

The encouraging news is the effective use of bystander CPR nearly doubles a victim's chance for survival. It adds critical minutes to a patient's life until defibrillation -- a shock that helps restore the heart's normal rhythm -- can occur.

On Saturday, the DeBakey Heart Institute at Hays Medical Center hopes to train 200 area residents in Friends and Family CPR. The American Heart Association specifically developed the course for members of the general public who are 8 and older. The 1.5-hour classes will be offered at no charge.

The event is sponsored in part by HayMed Foundation and DeBakey Heart Institute at HaysMed.

Classes begin at 9 and 11 a.m. at HaysMed, Center for Health Improvement Gym 2500, Canterbury Drive, in Hays. For more information, call (785) 623-5500 or (800) 248-0073, Ext. 5500, or register at www.haysmed.com/cprregistration.