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Baltimore County Drawing Attention To CPR Importance

REISTERSTOWN, Md. (WJZ) -- Every year, 350,000 people die from cardiac arrest. Wednesday, the Baltimore County Fire Department recognized every day citizens whose CPR skills helped save their lives. The critical life-saving skill is now the focus of a new initiative "Lend a Hand, Save a Life."

Rochelle Ritchie has the story.

Seventeen-year-old Ashley Mayes is lucky to be alive.

"The reason why I am standing up in front of all of you and see the sunshine every day is because of CPR," Mayes said.

She shared her story at the Baltimore County Franklin fire station, hoping to save someone else.

"Very important for me and my sisters and my family that I wake up every morning and get to see her because of this," she said.

Last year, Mayes---a softball player---was warming up to bat when her mom said she collapsed.

"Those few minutes that they were able to perform CPR until the paramedics got there was life-changing," said Laura Mayes.

Mayes said had it not been for a teammate and a coach knowing CPR, she would be dead.

"You never realize everything can happen to you. The last thing we thought is it would be me," she said.

That's why Baltimore County officials are teaming up for the "Lend a Hand, Save a Life" initiative, educating the public---regardless of age---on the importance of CPR without mouth-to-mouth.

"You want to grab your fingers, elbow locked, and shoulders over your hands to use your body leverage," said a fire official.

Cardiac arrest kills 350,000 people every year and that number would drop significantly if people knew what to do to help.

"When someone collapses during cardiac arrest, it's about four minutes before fatal changes start to happen in the body, so it's important people take action before we get there," said the official.

Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz is hoping the public will join the "Lend a Hand, Save a Life" initiative to ensure everyone has a fighting chance at life before help is on the way.

"Anyone can learn how to use it, even me," Kamenetz said.

Several people who used CPR to save lives were honored at the event.

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