CPR flash mob delivers serious message in surprising way

OBSERVER Photo by Lisa Monacelli. Firefighters, Sheriff’s deputies and others perform CPR on dummies to the song “Stayin’ Alive” as part of a flash mob Thursday during halftime of the girls’ varsity basketball game in Silver Creek. The game was in honor of Deputy Kevin Link, the late school resource officer for Silver Creek.

SILVER CREEK — American Heart Month, celebrated every February, arrived in the village a little early this year.

To the surprise and delight of onlookers, a Hands-Only CPR Flash Mob descended on the gymnasium of the Silver Creek Central School District during halftime of the girls’ varsity basketball team’s non-league game against the Clymer Central School District.

The special event was also a tribute to Deputy Kevin Link, the school resource officer for Silver Creek who passed away from an unexpected cardiac event in October. The Dunkirk native and Portland resident was a longtime law enforcement officer and a certified EMT.

“Cardiovascular diseases remain the highest cause of death in the United States,” said School Nurse Jennifer Johnson, who organized the awareness event. “We wanted to catch people off guard with this somewhat light-hearted attempt to engage our school community and get them thinking about how they can be prepared to help if they ever see someone in medical distress. Immediate CPR can greatly increase a person’s chances of survival.”

Dozens of uniformed first responders — EMTs, nurses, firefighters, police officers — as well as students and staff volunteered for the carefully choreographed performance set to the tune of “Stayin’ Alive” by The Bee Gees and demonstrated the life-saving technique to onlookers.

The act lasted mere minutes, but the volunteers and organizers hope the lesson leaves a lasting impression.

According to cpr.heart.org, if you see a teen or adult collapse they should first call 911 then “push hard and fast in the center of the chest to the beat of a tune 100 to 120 beats” per minute. “Stayin’ Alive” is a song often suggested.

“Kevin was a fun-loving guy and quite the jokester,” said Johnson. “But he also did very serious, life-saving work every single day for many years. I know he would be the first one participating in this activity, so we are honored to pay tribute to him in this fun and unique way. I am also so happy to have so many organizations in our community helping make this special.”

TLC Healthcare set up a blood pressure reading table and distributed information while the Chautauqua County Department of Health and Human Services provided dozens of CPR mannequins and informational cards. A gym membership giveaway was sponsored by the girls’ and boys’ basketball teams. In a touching tribute, the players donned red jerseys with “Link” printed on the back.

Deputy Link’s brother is one of many health care professionals who participated in the flash mob.

“Kevin would have definitely participated in this event,” said Robert Link, who works for TLC Healthcare. He spoke on behalf of the entire Link family, including Kevin’s wife, Kelly Link, and sister, Maggie Owen, who danced during the performance. “Thanks to all of you for keeping Kevin’s memory alive. We are grateful to everyone for putting this together.”

“Deputy Link was an integral part of this district,” said Johnson. “This was the least we could do to ensure he has a lasting influence on our school community. We miss him with all our hearts.”

For more information about American Heart Month, visit www.heart.org.