AQ-CPRSAINT LOUIS, Mo. — During a moment of crisis, the common human reaction is to freeze and panic, one that could cost time and lives.

New CPR guidelines from the American Heart Association suggest anyone step in and take action during an emergency situation. While it is helpful to have a knowledge of CPR, Douglas Randell, EMS training officer with the St. Louis Fire Department, said it is not always necessary.

Randell said too often, people are afraid of doing something wrong, so they do nothing at all.

“I’ll say to ’em, ‘if the person is dead, then can you make them any deader.'” asked Randell. “By doing nothing, you are guaranteeing the outcome of this person. If you do something, then there could be a change in their outcome.”

Randell said the most important tool in saving a life could be a cell phone. 9-1-1 operators are trained to give CPR instructions over the phone, help that could save someone in cardiac arrest.

Still, Randell claimed there is no substitution for CPR training.

“Become trained in CPR, do something when the time arrives, and don’t be afraid,” said Randell. “The more people that participate in this, the more lives can and will be saved.”

Nearly 200,000 individuals go into cardiac arrest in a hospital every year. The new CPR guidelines from the American Heart Association require hospital personnel to be retrained frequently to keep skills sharp.

In the event of an emergency at home, the AHA calls on individuals to dial 9-1-1 immediately and place the phone on speaker. Those unfamiliar with CPR should proceed with “hands only CPR” by pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest 100 – 120 times per minute.