University of Iowa Department of History to Launch Richard Kerber Memorial CPR Initiative

The Department of History at the University of Iowa is launching a project in memory of Richard Kerber, MD, the late husband of Professor Emerita of History Linda Kerber, with a CPR training session for its faculty and staff. The Richard Kerber Memorial CPR Initiative hopes to encourage CPR training across campus, as well as the installation of Automatic External Defibrillators in UI buildings.



Dr. Kerber (1939-2016), served on the faculty of the UI Hospitals and Clinics Division of Cardiology for over 40 years. He headed the Echocardiology Laboratory, ran the Fellowship Program, and served as Interim Chief of the Division. He was a founding member, and later president, of the American Society for Echocardiography.



When Kerber joined the faculty in the early 1970s, CPR was in its infancy. He established, and for decades directed, the program that trains faculty and staff throughout UIHC in CPR. Kerber's scientific research contributed substantially to improving the practice of resuscitation, and his work on national and international task forces was important in setting standards for training lay people in CPR and in the placement of public-access Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs) throughout the country and the world.



Cardiac arrest can happen to anyone, at any age. It is well established that if CPR or external defibrillation is applied within three minutes of cardiac arrest, the chances of recovery without brain damage are substantially improved. CPR training also includes the use of the Heimlich maneuver to dislodge food that has been caught in the windpipe, and the use of the Epi-pen for people who go into shock on ingestion of nuts or other allergens.



Although faculty and staff in the medical buildings at the University of Iowa are fully trained and updated every year or two, Linda Kerber noted that the faculty and staff who work in non-medical, non-athletic buildings on campus have been neglected. Although there are more than 80 AEDs in non-medical buildings, their placement is erratic; there are none in Schaeffer Hall, the busiest classroom building on campus. In some buildings, among them the Boyd Law Building and the Voxman Music Building, there are AEDs but the faculty and staff are often untrained and may not even know where these are located.



The state of Iowa has been a leader in training high school students in CPR. No student gets a diploma from an Iowa high school without having completed a course in CPR, and 30 states now follow Iowa’s example. The Recreation and Wellness Center offers free classes that enable students to update and maintain their skills. However, there has never been a program to train faculty and staff in non-medical buildings at the UI, and in the last 18 months, three people were successfully resuscitated in non-medical UI buildings.  



In taking on the task of offering this training to its faculty, the History Department hopes that it will encourage other departments, offices, and units in the College of Liberal Arts and beyond to join in the efforts to increase the number of people in the UI community who are trained in life-saving techniques and in doing so continue to work on the legacy of Dr. Kerber.

SOURCE: The College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at the University of Iowa

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