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Pulse Check: George Ordway, PhD, PA-C

George Ordway, PhD, PA-C, is a physician assistant with The Heart Center at Northeast Georgia Medical Center and Chairman of the Board of Directors for the North Georgia Heart Foundation. Prior to becoming a physician assistant, Dr. Ordway was professor of physiology at the UT Southwestern Medical Center, where he taught cardiovascular physiology _DSC0557to medical students for 25 years.

Thanks to George’s dedication, NGHF has helped train more than 8,100 individuals of all ages in Hands-only CPR and AED use. We asked George to share some insights about CPR training, what makes it so important and why anyone can – and should – learn how to do it.

What are some common misconceptions people have about performing/learning CPR?

People often think they need to be “certified” in order to perform CPR for someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest.  Simply knowing the basics of hands-only or bystander CPR is all that is necessary to begin this important life-saving technique. No certification is required.

Another misconception is that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is a required component of performing CPR. This is not the case and, in fact, interrupting chest compressions to give breaths results in worse outcomes for the victim than if there is no interruption. A related point is that, for any number of reasons, people may be reluctant to place their mouth over that of the victim’s and so simply do not do anything.

A person may feel they are not strong enough to provide adequate chest compression; however, any compressions are significantly better than no compressions. Worry about hurting the victim or breaking a rib is often mentioned as a concern. The chance of these happening is exceedingly small and the alternative for the victim is dying.

Finally, some people are reluctant to perform CPR for fear of being sued if the victim is hurt or doesn’t survive. Everyone should recognize that Georgians are covered by ‘good Samaritan’ laws that protect them from liability when performing this life-saving measure.

Training “regular folks” in CPR and AED use is different from your past experience teaching cardiovascular physiology to medical students. Why do you think it’s so important?

Training people in bystander CPR and AED use is critically important to the North Georgia Heart Foundation’s goal of increasing the survival rate for victims of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest from its current level of 8%. We know this can be done because of survival rates of 40% to 60% in places like Seattle, and Mesa, Ariz., where so many people know CPR and AEDs are readily available.

Teaching cardiovascular physiology to medical students certainly was rewarding; however, teaching these critical first “links” in the survival chain for victims of cardiac arrest is, in a number of respects, even more so.

What would you like to see the North Georgia Heart Foundation accomplish in the next 1-2 years?

I would like to see the North Georgia Heart Foundation become the “go to” organization in north Georgia for issues related to cardiovascular health and disease. This includes continuing and extending education efforts on bystander CPR and AED use in a way that creates a “culture” of survival for cardiac arrest.

Equally important, however, is providing education on several levels that emphasizes the importance of healthy lifestyles and prevention of cardiovascular disease in the first place. I also would like to see us begin community-based research that addresses those unique factors that make us part of the “Stroke Belt” and more susceptible to cardiovascular disease.

Pulse Check is a new web feature that will explore people and topics closely associated with NGHF’s mission of eradicating cardiovascular disease through locally based research and education.