To Watch The Boston Marathon Responsibly, Watch This Video First

This article is more than 9 years old.

I hate to be a spoiler. After all, for me at least, one of the great joys of watching from the Boston Marathon sidelines as the heroically suffering runners pass by is the sheer "better you than me" schadenfreude. I admire the runners and revel in the pure, not-running passivity of being a spectator at the same time.

So it's with deep chagrin that I report that recent research by Dr. Aaron Baggish of Massachusetts General Hospital and others suggests that we spectators can't be quite so passive anymore, because when nearby crowd members or runners know CPR and rush to the aid of a collapsed runner, they really can save lives. (And I don't want to think about how many collapses may be caused by heat now predicted to rise into the eighties on Monday.)  In a January paper in The New England Journal of Medicine, Dr. Baggish and colleagues write:

The strongest predictors of survival of cardiac arrest were initiation of bystander-administered cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) (P=0.01 by Fisher’s exact test) and an underlying diagnosis other than hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (P = 0.01 by Fisher’s exact test).

Of course, as Dr. Baggish points out, that's good news because it suggests action could help: broader CPR training. There are even special Marathon-oriented training sessions this weekend. If you don't have time to take a course, the video above offers the basics of the relatively new dogma on "Hands-only" CPR, and just to review my favorite tip, if you need to do CPR on someone, the best beat comes from Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust" (but maybe you shouldn't sing it aloud to the patient...)

This program aired on April 13, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.

Carey Goldberg Twitter Editor, CommonHealth
Carey Goldberg is the editor of WBUR's CommonHealth section.




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