CRYSTAL FALLS — When coming upon a situation that may require CPR, most people are reluctant to apply it because they don’t want to put their mouth on the victim’s. Forest Park students are learning a method that may change that.

It’s called hands-on-only CPR, and it’s exactly what it sounds like. The method removes the step in which a citizen responder breathes into a victim’s lungs. Simply pressing down on an unresponsive person’s chest at a rate of about 100 beats per minute could mean the difference between life and death.

“If we get to the scene and somebody’s been down for five minutes, or longer, there’s nothing we can do, as 911,” NORTHSTAR EMS Iron County supervisor Tom Bucek said. “If somebody does the hands-on-only CPR, we have a chance. The success rate after doing quality CPR for 40 minutes is still 10%, and that’s huge.”

Forest Park High School students practiced the method and also got hands-on training with an automatic external defibrillator. Some took away information they hadn’t previously had and feel more at ease applying CPR if the situation calls for it.

Forest Park senior Ethan McGregor said, “I would feel a lot more confident after today. Definitely learned a lot; it was a learning experience because [Tom] knew what he was talking about, very knowledgeable. It’s important because you never know when you’re going to run into a situation, and you never know when you’re going to be able to help someone.”

Hands-on-only CPR has become standard in King County in Washington state where the survival rate for cardiac arrest victims and unresponsive people is over 50%. Currently, in Michigan, it’s about 1% or 2%.

Educating the community could help improve those numbers.

“You can make a difference,” Bucek said. “Check for a pulse, call 911, get an AED. I want them to know that they can make a difference and it feels good to save somebody’s life.”