The new "Lend a Hand, Save a Life" campaign kicked off Monday at the PA Department of Health's exhibit in the Main Hall of the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

Visitors could learn the hands-only CPR technique to the beat of the BeeGees' hit song, "Stayin' Alive."

"It's been crazy all day," said Kait Gillis, spokeswoman for the Department of Health.

Everyone who tried hands-only CPR on a mannequin received a bracelet and information about the Lend a Hand, Save a Life campaign. The goal of the campaign is to teach people about sudden cardiac arrest and to train 250,000 people in the state in hands-only CPR.

Hands-only has been recommended by the American Heart Association since 2008.

Megan Hollinger of York gives CPR to a mascot at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Monday, MORE FARM SHOW PHOTOS
Megan Hollinger of York gives CPR to a mascot at the Pennsylvania State Farm Show Monday,
MORE FARM SHOW PHOTOS (Bil Bowden)
It is easier to understand and to perform than CPR with breaths, said Megan Hollinger, program coordinator for the Emergency Health Services Federation.

She was one of several volunteers at the exhibit helping to educate visitors.

People tend to be afraid to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and fear being charged for performing it incorrectly, said Hollinger.

Hands-only is less intimidating and just as effective, Hollinger said. If someone is unconscious and not breathing normally, call 911 immediately. Then place one hand on top of the other on the center of the person's chest and pump hard and fast to save a life, she said. Use an automated external defibrillator (AED) if one is available.

Educators reminded crowds that if they are not sure how fast to pump, think about the beat of "Stayin' Alive."

"If you wait for an ambulance, you cut the chances for survival drastically," said Mike Reihart, regional medical director for the Emergency Health Services Federation.

An extra minute of waiting for EMS decreases a person's chance of survival by 10 percent, and in five minutes it drops another 50 percent, said Reihart. The national standard for ambulances to arrive, which is assuming they are traveling in the best of circumstances, is eight minutes and 59 seconds, he said.

Teaching people how to use the hands-only technique truly saves lives, Reihart said.

The campaign is a collaboration between the Heart Association, Department of Health's Bureau of Emergency Services (EMS) and the Pennsylvania HeartRescue Project.

The campaign runs through May 26, the last day of National EMS Week.

In the next several months these groups will be working with schools, sports teams, businesses and community groups in the state to reach their goal of training more people in hands-only CPR, said Gillis.

For more information, visit the Department of Health exhibit this week at the farm show or check out www.heart.org/lendahandsavealife.

- Reach Chelsea Shank at cshank@yorkdispatch.com.