It’s national CPR Awareness Week, and the American Heart Association is having a huge media kickoff in New York City featuring the creator of the life-saving “Stayin’ Alive” CPR teaching technique, Hawai‘i’s own Dr. Alson Inaba, MD.
Dr. Inaba is a professor of pediatrics at the John A. Burns School of Medicine and a physician at Kap‘iolani Medical Center for Women & Children, where UH’s Pediatrics Department is based. He was interviewed this week by several national news media, and took part in a mass CPR event on June 5 in New York.
Inaba’s CPR technique using the Bee Gees’ classic disco-era tune has been part of the national advertising campaigns by both the AHA and its British counterparts.
“I don’t like boring presentations, so I created a skit in which one student walked up onto the stage and suddenly collapsed,” said Inaba. “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.”
When he listened to the iconic tune, Inaba said he realized the song had about 100 beats per minute — the same rate the AHA recommends for CPR chest compressions.
“My teaching point 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.
“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 room nurse in Alaska to a hospital CEO in Botswana, Africa.”
Inaba has received much professional recognition, including the Leonard Tow Humanism in Medicine Award presented during the MD Convocation for the 2011 MD graduating class. His “Stayin’ Alive” teaching method has saved countless lives, documented by first-person survivor accounts.
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.
“We believe Dr. Inaba’s work is representative of the innovative teaching to be found at the John A. Burns School of Medicine,” said Dean Jerris Hedges, MD. “We couldn’t be prouder of Dr. Inaba’s continuing role in helping to promote life-saving CPR.”