Westport EMS, adopting cutting-edge therapies, is using "cyro-aid," or cold, to lessen brain damage among selected cardiac-arrest victims, Westport Rotarians learned Tuesday during the group's weekly luncheon at Longshore Inn.

The therapy drops body temperature 6 degrees and lessens permanent brain damage by lowering the brain's demand for a normal quantity of blood. The temperature drop induces hypothermia.

Local application of the body-cooling therapy was confirmed when Marc Hartog, the Westport EMS director, was asked about it by a Westport News reporter.

Hartog then explained how the treatment works to the Rotarians, most of whom are in non-medical pursuits.

The therapy -- also dubbed artificial hypothermia -- now is in use by EMS in New York City, as well as other units across the nation, London and Vienna, the New York Times reported Aug. 10.

Hartog and the unit's co-chief, Martin Iselin, shared other updated information about the local emergency medical service with the Rotarians:

"We bring the hospital emergency room to you." One proof: The $35,000 portable electro-cardiogram machine. It has 12 leads. Westport paramedic Michael Salzatore, after the meeting was asked by phone what that means. "It means the machine gives us 12 different ways of looking at the heart," he said. The machines are standard in emergency rooms.

There is a critical need for more Westporters to be certified in cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. Hartog said in Seattle, where such training routinely is given in schools, the city has many people certified in CPR. As a result, there is a 30 percent survival among cardiac-arrest victims annually. In Westport, because of the paucity of people trained in CPR, the survival rate of cardiac-arrest victims is just 2 to 3 percent, according to Hartog.

To learn about free CPR training, call 203-341-6030. Training takes several hours; participants practice on dummies. The mouth-to-mouth part of the CPR training, therefore, is not unappetizing.