He's a heart-health expert, just one of several people who are doling out free advice during a day of demonstrations and exhibits.
Although not as sexy as manipulating a $1.5-million robot, chances are you can learn more from Lawson about practical health than operating the machine.
Providence Regional Medical Center is hosting the free health fair from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the new Providence Cymbaluk Medical Tower.
It's an opportunity to see and play with medical equipment that you probably don't want to visit with otherwise, like in the surgical theaters.
"People like to see what happens behind those doors," said Cheri Russum, a Providence spokeswoman.
The da Vinci machine is used for procedures in parts of the body not typically discussed (prostatectomy and hysterectomy, if you must know). The newly opened hyperbaric chamber is available for people recovering from chronic wounds. CPR is, for instance, for when you have a heart attack.*
So, with Lawson, you learn an ounce of prevention.
The exercise physiologist works with cardiac patients to set them on an exercise program.
Getting the heart beating is what exercise is all about, but how to tell if you're doing enough is often a challenge, Lawson said.
For years people relied on taking their pulse or using monitors to try to maintain a specified heart rate. Even with advances in technology, accurately determining heart rate can be a challenge, Lawson said. Add in the complicating factor of medication, and heart rate becomes a less reliable indicator.
Instead, Lawson helps people understand how to evaluate exertion using a simple zero-to-10 scale. He'll be demonstrating the scale on Saturday.
Most people, especially those receiving cardiac treatment, should exercise to about 3 to 4 on the scale, he said.
That's moderate to somewhat hard.
"It takes some practice to get to know your body," Lawson said. "It works fairly well for most people."
Another way to think about it is having enough breath to be able to talk, but not sing.
Lawson's booth will be among 35 at the fair. Other demonstrations include CPR and Heimlich basics, heart-healthy food samples, bike helmet fittings and a showcase of human organs.
And, of course, surgeons will show people how the da Vinci robots works and allowing people to pick up rubber bands and try to place them on a cone.
In recognition of National Heart Month, people also can complete a "Heart Health Passport" for an opportunity to win prizes.
Other activities at the fair include:
Sexual sssault prevention: Forensic nurses teach how to avoid being a victim of sexual assault.
Sim Man: Learn CPR on a life-size training mannequin. He even talks!
Lifeline demo: Seniors learn how to stay safe while living alone.
Hand hygiene demo: See how many germs you leave behind when washing your hands.
Flu shots: It's not too late. Shots are $10.
Therapeutic harpists: Hear how harp music aids in healing.
Five Wishes: Let your loved ones know how you want to be cared for if you can't speak for yourself.
Baby bum: Using a model, learn how to tell a baby's position in the womb.
Providence's Hands-On Health Fair
11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Providence's Cymbaluk Medical Tower, 1800 13th St., Everett. For more information go to: www.providence.org/everett.
Jackson Holtz: 425-339-3447; email@example.com.
* Correction, Feb. 21, 2012: An earlier version of this story described a type of hyperbaric treatment not available at the Everett hospital.
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