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Local woman uses CPR knowledge to save life
Turlock Fire offers course to public
CPR pic
Turlock Fire Department Capt. Larry Chalupnik, Engineer Paul Arai, and Firefighter Nicholas Grillo display the compression techniques used in CPR. The TFD is offering a CPR class to the public. - photo by SABRA STAFFORD / The Journal

Tamara McKinstry, a registered dental assistant, had been taking classes in cardio pulmonary resuscitation for years as part of her certification process, but never gave it much thought outside of the classroom. But that all changed one night in 2010 at an Atwater bar owned by her mother.

An elderly man, who was a family friend, suddenly collapsed on the dance floor.

“He just went down,” McKinstry recalled. “He didn’t have a pulse and he wasn’t breathing. There was nothing.”

All that training in CPR suddenly came into play and for 22 minutes McKinstry worked on keeping the man alive. The man was shocked twice by emergency responders and flat-lined on the way to the hospital, only to be revived again.

Two years later the man has made a full recovery and both he and his doctor credit McKinstry with saving his life.

“It is a very rewarding feeling to be able to utilize that training,” McKinstry said. “I was the only one there who knew CPR and if I hadn’t been there, he wouldn’t be walking around now.”

McKinstry is in the minority among the American public. The American Heart Association estimates that about 30 percent of the population is able to perform CPR in a critical situation.

The Turlock Fire Department is hoping to give that number a boost — at least locally — by offering a CPR class to the public on July 14.

Turlock Fire Engineer Paul Arai, who is organizing the class, has first-hand experience with administering CPR and knows the importance of learning the life-saving technique.

“With cardiac arrest, every second counts,” Arai said. “The odds of a person surviving a cardiac event are significantly better when there is someone close at hand to perform CPR.”

According to the AHA, performing CPR can double a person’s chance of survival from sudden cardiac arrest. The AHA also found that 75 percent of all cardiac arrests happen at home, so knowing CPR is more likely to save the life of a loved one than a complete stranger.

TFD’s class will focus on adult and child/infant CPR and learning to use a defibrillator.

The class will be conducted at the Turlock City Hall building located at 156 S. Broadway - Yosemite Room. The class will be held from 9 a.m. to noon July 14. Participants will be asked to make a $35 donation, $10 of which will go for the cost of the certification card, $10 for administrative fees and supplies, and the remaining $15 will go to Turlock Fire Department, in an effort to build a CPR mannequin replacement fund. Checks may be made to the City of Turlock. The class must be paid for in advance to secure registration and space is limited. For more information or to register please call Fire Administration at 668-5580.