Science Center Kiosk Can Teach You In 5 Minutes How To Save A Life

Jun 7, 2017

Two years ago, Sean Ferguson, of Hampton Township, was walking through a parking lot at the University of Dayton. He said the next thing he remembers is waking up in UPMC Mercy Hospital.

Lightning had struck the ground and threw Ferguson into a car, breaking his jaw. The electric current from the lighting ran through his body and sent him into cardiac arrest. Several students responded, but only one knew how to perform CPR until an ambulance arrived.

“Most people don’t have the confidence because they haven’t learned and you’re scared that you’re either going to do something wrong or break their ribs, but the alternative is a lot worse than that,” Ferguson said. “You don’t want someone to die because you were hesitant.”

Matt Lickenbrock had just learned the technique a few days earlier from an American Heart Association kiosk at an airport. One of those kiosks is now at the Carnegie Science Center’s Sports works facility on the North Side.

Sean Ferguson practices CPR on a rubber torso at the Carnegie Science Museum's Sports works facility.
Credit Sarah Schneider / 90.5 WESA

Deb Banks, executive director of the American Heart Association of Greater Pittsburgh, said the kiosk could teach at least 12,000 people a year the compression-only method. CPR certification includes resuscitation breaths, but Banks said the compression-only method is just as effective and more people are likely to do it. She said there is no way to track who knows how to preform CPR, but she does know more people need to be educated.

“Doing proper CPR is exhausting,” she said. “Because it will take about 10 minutes for someone from the time you dial 911 for someone to show up, EMS, fire or police depending on where you live in the world. So you need more than one person (to switch off) because it’s physically exhausting.”

The American Heart Association reports that last year, 12 percent of the 350,000 people who suffered out-of-hospital cardiac arrests survived. About 46 percent of the total incidents resulted in a bystander intervening with CPR.

The kiosk tells the user that in a real situation, always call 911 first. It then provides an overview of the technique followed by a practice session on a rubber torso. After a 30-second session, the kiosk gives feedback on the rate of compression and proper hand placement. It suggests the user push down on the chest to the rhythm of the Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive,” which works out to 100 beats per minute.

Banks said the kiosk was placed in the Sports Works facility at the science center to target children older than 7th grade who would be strong enough to preform CPR.