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When Nancy Carman stopped breathing on March 7, she was lucky to be sitting at her desk in Whittier Elementary School.
Principal Jane Fitts, guided by a Salt Lake City dispatcher and helped by two staff members, gave Carman CPR until paramedics arrived. Both Fitts and the dispatcher had learned new CPR guidelines that still are relatively unfamiliar to the public.
Whether that helped save Carman's life no one will ever know, but the new protocols were designed to be more effective and easier to administer.
"It's so rare that somebody survives something like this," said Scott Freitag, director of communications for the Salt Lake City Fire Department, which received the 911 call.
Revised by the American Heart Association in late 2005, the guidelines now advise giving 30 chest compressions - instead of 15 - for every two rescue breaths.
Experts discovered that when rescuers halt compressions, blood flow stops. The conclusion: the fewer the interruptions, the better the blood flow. The goal now: get the word out about the changes and train more people.
"You need to pump harder and faster and not interrupt chest compressions any more than necessary," said Maureen Newman, a nurse who teaches CPR and is a member of the American Heart Association Utah board of directors.
"A lot of times lay people don't do CPR because, even if they were trained, they think they will do something wrong. This simplifies the process" with fewer breaths, she said.
The association provides kits that include a mannequin for practice and a DVD for instruction on the new method.
The new guidelines apply to adults, children and infants, although the delivery system is different. With adults, two hands are needed for compressions, as opposed to one hand for children and two fingers for infants.
"This is much easier for people to remember," said Patti O'Connor, director of Preparedness Programs for the Greater Salt Lake Area chapter of the American Red Cross, which also offers CPR classes.
However, she encourages anyone familiar only with the old guidelines to still use them in emergencies.
"You're not going to hurt anybody with the old guidelines," she said. "But the way we do things, the new guidelines seem to be more effective."
Fitts had decided to hold CPR training at Whittier for anyone who wanted it last summer. Most of the staff attended and were taught the updated way to do CPR.
As for students, health education is part of the curriculum for state public schools, but CPR training is not required. The decision whether to offer it is left up to each high school.
Funding is available through the Utah Department of Health, and firefighters and paramedics provide much of the training.
"The state Office of Education highly recommends CPR training," said Frank Wojdech, health and physical education specialist with the office. "We're also trying to put our teachers in the position to provide certification for students."
The Unified Fire Authority sends instructors to 10th graders in Salt Lake County high schools outside of city limits. They seem to be picking up the new guidelines quicker than the old ones, said firefighter/paramedic Craig Ellingson.
"It's pretty easy," he said. "They feel it's valuable because the people they'd most likely perform CPR on would be family and friends."
Kids also influence their loved ones. "If we can get young people trained, they tell their parents and the parents say, 'Maybe it's something I should learn,' " Newman said.
Carman, 65, has been a secretary at Whittier for 23 years. She is recovering well after a suspected potassium imbalance.
She suffered a broken ankle when she collapsed, but no long-term loss of cognitive or motor skills. Doctors said she had stopped breathing on her own for 137 minutes, said her husband, Ron Carman.
"I think the real primary reason for the successful outcome [in my situation] is there were people trained in CPR to help immediately," she said.
* NATE CARLISLE contributed to this report.