Melinda Mawdsley: Prepare to save your friends

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Dr. Mark McCaulley helps save lives. He just didn't plan on having to try to do so while running the Pikes Peak Marathon on Aug. 21.

After ascending the Barr Trail in a great time, McCaulley, a specialist in internal medicine with Yampa Valley Medical Associates, was on his way back down when he came across a fallen runner, Gary Williams.

McCaulley, who is certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation, spent 51 minutes trying to revive Williams.

He wasn't the only medical professional on scene. A cardiologist, an anesthesiologist and a CPR instructor were among those assembled about a half-mile above timberline.

Williams did not survive.

"Despite all the human expertise, if you don't have the tools, there is only so much that can be done," McCaulley said. "I bet we had 20 people who stopped and identified they were CPR-certified."

In Williams' situation, personal attention didn't help, but in other situations, it certainly can.

That got me thinking. I'm not CPR certified, at least not anymore. A quick poll at my office revealed that many of my co-workers also have let their CPR certifications expire.

Only two of the 25 employees working Friday had current certification cards, and nearly all of us are outdoors en--thusiasts.

For a sparsely populated area, Northwest Colorado is blessed with a great hospital and superb Search and Rescue, Ski Patrol and emergency crewmembers.

But none of that matters if you or a friend collapse in a remote area out of cell phone range and hours away from a road or medical attention.

"If you don't regain a pulse in eight minutes, sur----vival rates go down," McCaulley said.

He estimated Williams had been down about three minutes before he arrived, and he was the first on scene. A helicopter landed a half-mile above Williams 25 minutes later -- and that response time was possible because of a well-staffed endurance event near the city of Colorado Springs.

Steamboat Springs is a healthy community, but physical fitness isn't the only factor in determining heart health. People living in this area can learn more about CPR online or through a number of nearby outlets.

Yampa Valley Medical Center offers classes to the public, as space allows, by calling 871-2500. In addition, the American Red Cross Centennial Chapter offers classes in Craig. They can be scheduled through the Fort Collins office at (800) 824-6615.

Certification lasts one year. The full-day course at YVMC lasts six hours. That's a day hike.

The refresher course at YVMC is three hours. That's a morning bike ride.

Imagine if you were out on one of those day hikes or morning bike rides and your friend experienced heart failure. Those first moments are crucial. Dr. McCaulley is prepared to save your friend. Are you?

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