JABSOM Professor Inspired “Stayin’ Alive” for CPR–Now it’s a National Video Campaign

A professor at the John A. Burns School of Medicine, (JABSOM) University of Hawai’i Mānoa, is the inspiration behind a funny new video with a serious message: how to properly administer CPR. Part of a new national advertising campaign by American Heart Association (AHA), the video features a Hollywood movie star and uses the Bee Gees’ hit, “Stayin’ Alive” to teach the proper rate of chest compressions for effective CPR. JABSOM professor and Honolulu pediatrician Dr. Alson Inaba devised the use of the iconic disco-era tune for teaching CPR.

“I don’t like boring presentations, so I created a skit in which one student walked up onto the stage and suddenly collapsed. Then a group of MD medical trainees, sporting dark glasses, gold chains and a boom box blaring “Stayin’ Alive” rushed up to the stage to perform CPR,” said Dr. Inaba, Associate Professor of Medicine and head of the Division of Emergency Pediatric Medicine at Kapi’olani Medical Center for Women and Children.

“My teaching point, said Inaba, was “let’s do everything we can to help this guy stay alive. That got me to thinking about the beat of ‘Stayin’ Alive’”, he said. When he listened to it again, he said, he realized the song had about 100 beats per minute — the same rate the AHA recommends for CPR chest compressions.

“JABSOM medical students practiced on robot patients, and before long, they were humming and strutting, releasing their inner John Travolta”, Inaba said. “After the word got out in the 2006 Currents publication for CPR instructors (and eventually the media), I was shocked to hear from people from around the world who had adopted the practice, from an emergency department nurse in Alaska to a hospital CEO in Botswana, Africa,” Inaba added.

The new AHA video is clearly inspired by Dr. Inaba’s innovative teaching method, and the AHA national press release accompanying the video credits Dr. Inaba’s technique. The video stars comedian Ken Jeong, star of The Hangover and Hangover Part 2 and the network television series Community. In addition to being uproariously funny in the AHA video, Jeong has medical credentials. The actor is also known as Dr. Jeong, a trained internal medicine physician.

JABSOM’s Dr. Inaba has received much professional recognition, including this year’s Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award, selected by the school’s students for “faculty of exemplary compassion, competence and respect in the delivery of care.”  So, what’s Dr. Inaba’s reaction of the new video he inspired?  “It’s hilarious, awesome!”  And, we might add, it is certain to save lives. Sudden cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the U.S., with nearly 300,000 out-of-hospital cases reported annually. Since about 80 percent of victims collapse at home, according to the AHA, knowing CPR can literally keep a family intact. Now it is as easy as calling 9-1-1 and pushing the chest hard, to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive”.

The AHA is conducting a national contest around the video, which can be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/americanheartassoc.

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