If you ever need CPR and happen to be around Denton City Council members, you should be in good hands, at least until paramedics arrive.

On Monday, firefighters trained all but one of the council members and the mayor on how to properly administer CPR and apply a defibrillator to an unresponsive person.

David Becker, battalion chief for the Denton Fire Department, led a class that lasted about 40 minutes. Mayor Chris Watts and all the council members except for outgoing council member Don Duff participated.

Becker told the officials that over the course of his decadeslong career, he’s noticed patients who receive CPR before firefighters arrive have the best shot at recovering from cardiac arrest. So it’s important for everyday people to learn CPR and how to use a defibrillator.

“What you do in your own house gives your family the best chance for survival,” Becker said.

It was council member Gerard Hudspeth’s idea for him and his colleagues to receive the training. Hudspeth said he’d noticed the automatic defibrillators hanging in city buildings around town and it made sense for them all to learn how to use them.

“Normally at an event, one of us is there,” Hudspeth said. “Man, it’d be bad if we’re there and didn’t know what to do.”

Chris Watts and Keely Briggs

Mayor Chris Watts and City Council member Keely Briggs practice preparing a defibrillator and performing CPR at City Hall.

If a person collapses or is found unresponsive, ask if the person is OK and check for a pulse and breathing. If the person doesn’t respond within about 10 seconds, Becker said, they’re probably clinically dead and it’s time to start chest compressions.

The officials practiced chest compressions to the beat of a metronome sounding from Becker’s phone. They gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to the practice dummies.

“I got lipstick on him,” council member Deb Armintor said.

And there was the defibrillator training. Becker said that if one is available, the defibrillator should be attached to the patient and continue running until paramedics arrive.

The mayor asked what one should do if the defibrillator, which comes with automated instructions, tells you not to shock a patient. He said he asked because on TV shows, a flatline usually means the person needs to be shocked.

But Becker said that’s not the case. Just because someone doesn’t need to be shocked doesn’t mean you should stop giving compressions. Give CPR until paramedics arrive or the person becomes responsive.

“TV and the internet,” Becker said. “Who knew?”

DALTON LAFERNEY can be reached at 940-566-6882 and via Twitter at @daltonlaferney.

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