The Odds for Stayin’ Alive Are Getting Better

by Sep 5, 2023Community, Health, South Brunswick

Rich Burns, Brunswick County’s EMS training officer, teaches the new method of Bystander CPR.

Before the Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) class began I introduced myself to the man sitting next to me. I told him I would not be surprised if the 20 of us in the room weren’t all humming the 1970s hit song “Stayin’ Alive” when we got to practicing chest compressions on our dummies. His response was that the song was not his type of music, and the look on his face informed me I must be some kind of nut. I was thoroughly redeemed, however, when the instructor played the old Bee Gees band music video on YouTube and taught us how it would help us save lives.

There is a whole new CPR in town, and it is not your grandfather’s CPR. It is one mostly everybody can learn in minutes, and there is no “rescue breathing” involved. It’s all about pumping the chest with compressions at about two pushes per second, about two inches deep. That’s about as fast as the beat Barry, Maurice and Robin Gibb produced “Stayin’ Alive” in the popular motion picture Saturday Night Fever, so many years ago.

Learning CPR Brunswick NC

Rich Burns has been Brunswick County’s EMS training officer for the past 26 years. He and full-time field paramedic Amy Inhof told us that old-school CPR, using compressions interrupted by two breaths, saved about eight percent of those undergoing the procedure 10 years ago, nationally. The new compressions-only CPR has literally pushed the survivability rate in our county right now to almost 20 percent. Burns is trying to educate as many people in the county as possible on how to do this easy CPR.

Burns says the increased survivability over old CPR is because of much improved “profusion” in the body. It’s not complicated. The heart is a pump. When it stops pumping (and someone is having a cardiac arrest), it takes up to 15 CPR chest compressions to start pumping ample oxygen into the bloodstream and through the heart. If you stop to give breaths, you have to prime the pump again, which doesn’t make sense.

The rule is to shake and shout at victims. If there is no response and they are turning pasty white, you need to send someone to call 911 and run for an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), if there is one, while you get going on Bystander CPR.

To perform Bystander CPR, lean over the person and position your heart over theirs. Using your body weight for leverage, you push downward on the lower half of their chest bone.

Push as far as you think a couple of inches is. The objective is to keep pumping those chest compressions without stopping, to keep the oxygen flowing through the body and heart. Burns says high-quality compressions are the key to “stayin’ alive,” at about 100 to 120 chest pumps per minute. If you just keep humming or singing “Stayin’ Alive” as you perform CPR, you know you are doing it at the correct speed. Burns says you can only keep this intensity up a couple of minutes, so it is important to switch off with someone else to help you with the CPR if possible.

CPR Brunswick NC

Burns is hoping that because people do not have to breathe into other person’s mouth, and the Good Samaritan Law protects those who attempt First Aid, more county residents will learn it. And especially because it is so easy to do.

Burns and his team have trained more than 8,000 county residents on Bystander CPR already and they want to teach YOU. They offer the non-certification class at no cost.

It includes how to clear airway obstructions from choking babies and adults and takes only about 90 minutes.

The song “Stayin’ Alive” will stay with you thereafter as much more than an old song. It will become your mantra for saving, perhaps, somebody you love very much. Or someone you may not know at all just might help you to stay alive.

Want to learn Bystander CPR?
If you have a group of interested people who want to learn, contact Rich Burns at