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Posted: Monday, July 23, 2007 11:00 pm

The first few minutes for a person in need of Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is vital, but some people are hesitant to respond because of the pending threat of a lawsuit. But these potential life-savers have no need to worry. Under Arizona's Good Samaritan Law, first care providers are protected from being found liable for helping others. Phoenix firefighter David Fisher said people with proper training have an obligation to help those in need, as long as they feel like the situation is not beyond their limitations. "You can look at it any way you want. I'm a human being helping another human being," Fisher said, "No lawyer will go after that." Guy Guyton has been teaching CPR with the Phoenix Fire Department for 23 years. "The importance of CPR is to help sustain life until a higher level of care gets there," Guyton said. "If you keep the blood circulating through the body by doing compressions, you keep life to the brain, which is the main thing." Brain death starts to occur in the first four to six minutes without oxygen. After 10 minutes, the damage to the brain is irreversible, he said. "The fire department doesn't save people, it's the public," Guyton added. Signs that a person needs CPR is if he/she is not able to talk, cough, show normal life movements or show signs of circulation. When this happens, Guyton said to administer the five steps of CPR: 1. Shake and shout at the subject. 2. If there is no response, dial 911. 3. Open the airway by tilting the head and lifting the chin, and wait five to 10 seconds for a sign of breathing. 4. Breathe twice into the subject's mouth. Each breath should last one second. 5. Check for circulation. See if the heart is working, or for any other signs of life. Begin chest compressions, placing both hands at the mid-nipple line, and compress 30 times at a depth of 1-and-a-half to 2 inches. Continue to ventilate and compress for five cycles, and then reassess depending on the subject's condition. Community education director Tom McCracken said CPR is an important skill to learn because cardiovascular disease is the No. 1 killer of Americans, and the more people who know how to do it increase the chances that a person will live. The CPR classes are taught every Wednesday from 5 to 9 p.m. at the Washington Adult Center, 2240 W. Citrus Way, Phoenix. Cost is $20. For more information, call (602) 262-6971. Emily Behrendt can be reached at (480) 898-7911 or ebehrendt@aztrib.com.

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