You Can Now Learn CPR With the Help of a Kickball and a Playlist

Created by Simon’s Heart, the CPR Jukebox will teach you how to save a life to the beat of your favorite song.

Sudden cardiac arrest kills 475,000 Americans each year. Now, you can help save more lives with the CPR Jukebox created by Philly nonprofit Simon’s Heart. / Photograph by Simon’s Heart.

Several years ago, a (former) colleague of mine told me a story of how she performed Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) on a coworker who had gone into cardiac arrest in the middle of teaching history class. Because she was able to efficiently bide time before the medics arrived, she helped save her coworker’s life. “I’m just glad I remembered what to do,” she said, relieved.

Approximately 475,000 Americans die from sudden cardiac arrest each year, but immediate and effective CPR provided by a bystander can double or even triple the chances of survival. The problem is, many of us probably never received formal CPR training. Sure, we know CPR involves performing chest compressions, but hand placement and tempo are not common knowledge. In fact, not all states require public schools to teach basic life support techniques. It wasn’t until one month ago that Gov. Tom Wolf signed Act 7, a bill requiring the Pennsylvania Department of Education to create a CPR curriculum for all schools. Plus, nearly 55-percent of employees in corporate, hospitality, educational, and labor jobs do not receive CPR and AED training from their employers.

To help more people learn how to properly administer CPR, Philly nonprofit Simon’s Heart recently created an informal, interactive training tool. Their CPR Jukebox, sponsored by Independence Blue Cross and Lehigh Valley Health Network, allows individuals of all ages to practice giving CPR using a kickball and a Spotify playlist. The concept is simple: you grab a kickball, pick a song off the playlist, clasp your hands, lock your elbows, and start pushing.

The idea for CPR Jukebox came naturally. Simon’s Heart often uses everyday objects to raise awareness about sudden cardiac arrest and make learning how to save a life less intimidating to students and student athletes. “We compare what happens in the human body to what happens to a deflating basketball,” says Samantha Krouse, program manager for Simon’s Heart and manager of GotAED. “When your basketball runs out of air, you pump it up with air so you can play another game. [Similarly] when a person goes into cardiac arrest, the heart stops pumping blood, and within minutes, your vital organs can collapse — unless someone steps in and becomes that pump.”

Simon Says Golf attendee, Caroline Coffey, practices giving chest compressions in the CPR Jukebox tent. / Photograph by Simon’s Heart.

Founder (and 2017 Health Hero Challenge winnerDarren Sudman decided to use that teaching approach as the basis of the new learning tool. He chose kickballs based on the amount of pressure they contain. Unlike a basketball, a kickball has a bit more give, allowing you to feel a similar amount of resistance that you would with a person’s chest. As for the music? Sudman, who has frequented quite a few music festivals himself, believed incorporating music would help people better remember the rate at which to push. That’s why their CPR Jukebox playlist contains nearly 80 songs that are all 100 beats per minute, the tempo at which you should give chest compressions.

This past November, the Simon’s Heart team began demo-ing the first iteration of CPR Jukebox at one of their AED Madness games. The technique received a lot of hype from students, so Sudman moved forward with it, collaborating with iHeart in December and entering the creation phase two months later. On July 15th, they debuted CPR Jukebox in its huge blow-up tent at Simon Says Golf, Simon’s Heart private golf outing.

CPR Jukebox will be popping up for the first time to the public at MusikFest in Bethlehem. You can visit the tent and press to the beat of your favorite song from 11 a.m. through 11 p.m. on August 3rd, 4th, 10th, and 11th. Whether you try at MusikFest or at home, you can help spread awareness by posting your own practice video with the tags #CPRJukebox and @simonsheart!