Feature: Medical “vendors” tout life-saving skills at night market

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JINAN, July 20 (Xinhua) — At 7:30 p.m., as lines of residents wait to be served snacks at food stalls at a night market on a bustling square in the city of Weifang, east China’s Shandong Province, vendor Zhang Junqiao operates an entirely different stall.

With four medical patient simulators placed on the ground, Zhang carries out training on first-aid skills like cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and the anti-choking Heimlich maneuver for locals, together with nine other doctors.

Zhang, 33, is the initiator of the stall. As an anesthetist from the Affiliated Hospital of Weifang Medical University, he was a member of Shandong’s 10th medical team aiding the fight against COVID-19 in central China’s Hubei Province.

Multiple citizens flocked to his stall and some of them took part in one of the training exercises. Among them, Abbas, a 23-year-old Indian student who graduated from Weifang Medical University this year, performed chest compressions on a patient simulator, following detailed instructions given by Zhang.

“Although I can perform CPR, I came here to learn because I want to sharpen up my skills,” said Abbas.

“There is a misconception that you can master how to perform CPR through watching videos. However, actual operation differs greatly from what is showed in the videos,” said Zhang, adding that is why he established the stall.

According to the National Center for Cardiovascular Diseases, China reports around 550,000 cases of sudden cardiac death on average per year, including instances outside of hospitals.

Zhang noted that although ordinary people may not be as professional as medical workers when performing CPR, they can also save lives in emergencies.

He has a full schedule. By day, he engages in his own anesthetist work at the hospital and offers first-aid training to doctors and medical students. By night, he sometimes rushes to communities to give CPR lectures to residents or runs his stall on the square.

Between his shifts, he invests his free time in popularizing CPR knowledge and practical skills among the general public, which is his long-held aspiration.

Zhang started to run his stall on June 7 after purchasing patient simulators at his own expense.

He also initiated a non-profit “Heartbeat Action” to better achieve his dream. Besides the nearly 70 medical workers in Weifang, more than 30 medical staff from other places across the country got in touch with Zhang, hoping to be a part of the action and together make a difference.

Zhang provides them with teaching aid and funds, and passes on his teaching experience to them.

At present, an increasing number of kindergartens, communities and students’ parents are applying for Zhang’s CPR training. He said he has conducted more than 30 popularization activities since June 12.

After his stall went viral on Chinese social media as netizens hailed his benevolence, Zhang said he was a little bit nervous.

“I don’t want to be an online celebrity. I just hope more medical personnel can become the main force popularizing pre-hospital first aid and save more lives,” he said.

Yet Zhang has an even bigger plan. He wants to collaborate with more high schools and help students master CPR skills during their teens.

To back up his aspiration, Zhang’s hospital not only provides him with equipment to teach CPR, but also started to build a “Heartbeat Action” experience center which will later open to the public.

“Taking what I have learned and giving back to society is a form of acknowledgment, and is extremely worthwhile,” said Zhang. Enditem

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