Tyler Firefighters are on a mission to get hundreds of East Texans CPR certified.

According to the American Heart Association, 350,000 Americans will go into cardiac arrest every year, and 170 a month happen in Smith County. Health experts said CPR can make a lifesaving difference.

"This is a skill that can be taught to someone who's 10 years old all the way up to 80 years old," said Tyler Assistant Fire Chief Michael Frost.

His goal is to get 500 people certified by the end of the year.

Frost said CPR is simple for anyone to learn.

First, check to see if the person is conscious. If not, call 9-1-1. Then, press your hands on their chest at 120 beats per minute, pushing 1.5 to 2 inches into the chest.

"For us people that can't count, use Johnny Cash 'Walk the Line' or Shakira 'Hips Don't Lie'," Frost said.

If you get tired, Frost said ask someone to take over with chest compressions -- that's the only time you should stop.

The TFD also has new equipment on board when they arrive to a cardiac call.

The plug ins for the new AEDs will send a message directly to ETMC EMS devices.

"That saves precious time when we're getting ready to send patients to the hospital," Frost said.

The new defibrillators are designed for children. Firefighters were using adult pads when trying to revive a child -- which can be dangerous.

"That is too much energy for a child," he said. "These new pads will adjust the energy for that child, and will lessen the damage to the cardiac tissue when trying to revive them."

After 22 years in the fire department, Frost said the death of one child still stands out in his mind.

"A drowning victim," he said. "If something had just been done between that 8 minutes of us getting there, that would've saved the child's life.

To learn CPR for yourself, give the Tyler Fire Department a call at 903-535-0005 to schedule an appointment.