A new study out of Rice University found there's a corridor running straight through the City of Houston where residents have a higher risk of dying from cardiac arrest because their friends, neighbors and family don't know how to save them.
Neighbors in Houston's Third Ward got a hands-on lesson in CPR on Thursday.
“CPR saves lives and some CPR is better than no CPR," said Donna Atkinson Travis, division manager for the City of Houston's Department of Health and Human Services.
The special outreach program was launched by the City of Houston and the American Heart Association after a Rice University study found certain neighborhoods were at a greater risk of cardiac arrests yet residents were least likely to step in and give CPR.
"It's personal to me because my father died of a heart attack,” said Houston Mayor Annise Parker. “He was well trained in CPR. He taught me how to do it, but he happened to be alone when he died."
The at-risk neighborhoods run straight through the City of Houston: Sunnyside, South Park, Riverside, Magnolia, Denver Harbor, Fifth Ward and Acres Homes.
The common denominator is that the areas are predominantly African American, have lower income and education levels and older residents.
"A lot of cardiac arrests occur in and around the home and the person who's most likely to give bystander CPR is a family member," said EMS Director Dr. David Persse.
The training courses emphasize "hands-only" CPR hoping to ease some reluctance to mouth-to-mouth.
"If the victim is a child or if it's a drowning victim or a special circumstance, we still do recommend that you do the breathing; but, for the most common cardiac arrest, for an adult with cardiac arrest that goes down, we do ask that you take action,” said René Ramon, community CPR manager for the American Heart Association. “ Do something and that something is at least hands-only CPR."
The training is free and it only takes about 20 minutes to learn how to save a life.
They're also giving out free at-home kits so those who attend the session can teach their family and friends.
Since the neighborhood outreach program was initiated in Houston earlier this year, more than 4200 people in the at-risk neighborhoods have been trained in hands-only CPR.