Saving lives through education: CPR programs teach lifesaving skills

Published March 19, 2014

Nearly 400,000 cardiac arrests occur every year in locations other than a hospital, and in 89 percent of those instances, an individual dies because he or she didn’t receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) immediately from someone nearby. 

Those numbers are particularly staggering because so many of those tragedies might have been preventable.  As industry leaders with a deep commitment to the health of our local communities, Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies have a responsibility – and the power - to help change these numbers through education.

Leading the way on this issue are Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Regence BlueCross BlueShield, which have joined with the American Heart Association (AHA) to launch local initiatives to give their communities the skills they need to help in a cardiac arrest situation. 

Regence BCBS and its Community Partner Organization, which serves Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington, partnered with the regional AHA and its Family & Friends® CPR Anytime® program.  Through CPR Anytime, the AHA wanted to increase the number of individuals who can perform CPR by teaching the skill to middle school students, teachers and staff, then asking them to take the kits home and train five or more people.

With funding from Regence BCBS, the AHA was able to train more than 1,500 students in 10 schools in Idaho.  The students, in turn, trained more than 2,000 additional people.  The program continues to add more regions and schools, giving thousands of youths and adults a lifesaving skill.

Meanwhile, six Anthem BCBS entities in 14 states (California, Colorado, Connecticut, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia and Wisconsin) joined with the AHA to launch a three-year campaign to raise awareness of Hands-OnlyTM CPR as a lifesaving method and to increase the likelihood of people performing CPR in an emergency.

Hands-Only CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional mouth-to-mouth CPR, and people are more likely to feel comfortable performing it.  With the financial support of the Anthem Foundation, Anthem Blue Cross Foundation, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia Foundation, Empire Blue Cross and Blue Shield and Empire BlueCross Foundation, the AHA launched an interactive Hands-Only CPR mobile tour and awareness campaign. 

The tour visited 16 markets and conducted 45 training events, resulting in nearly 11,000 people receiving in-person training and another 1.4 million who were trained via the virtual demonstration.

These initiatives are just a few examples of The Power of Blue – The Blues® commitment to fostering healthy communities – in action.  To learn more about these, or other Blue Cross Blue Shield community initiatives, check out the full Investing in America’s Health report.