Why learn CPR?
November highlights the importance of people having the ability to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR). At ER24, we constantly urge people to learn CPR. Why… Simply put, it is a skill that could save a person’s life. The thing about an emergency is that you never know when one may arise? Anyone including family, friends and colleagues could suffer cardiac arrest for example. You may just be the only one around who could possibly save them. Hence the importance of learning CPR. Below are some facts and tips about CPR provided by Willem Stassen, ER24 Critical Care Paramedic. What is CPR? CPR is the artificial means of ensuring that there is still blood flow to the brain and vital organs in the absence of a heartbeat (when someone goes into cardiac arrest). When exactly should CPR be performed? Any patient who is unconscious, not breathing and without a pulse should have CPR started. Research has shown that it is often difficult to definitively feel a pulse on these patients. For this reason it is suggested that any patient who is not breathing or who is breathing abnormally (gasping) should have CPR started immediately. What does CPR do? CPR provides blood and oxygen to the heart muscle during compressions in order for the heart to have energy to restart. In addition, while the heart attempts to restart (if possible), CPR provides blood to vital organs. CPR and defibrillation (shocking patients in certain heart rhythms) have shown to be the only interventions that improve survival in cardiac arrest. The chances of survival without brain damage diminishes every minute that no CPR is done. This means that waiting for an ambulance and paramedic to arrive before starting CPR will most certainly lead to a decreased chance of survival or an increase in the chances of catastrophic brain damage. See why it is important to learn CPR? How do you initiate CPR? This is done by applying external pressure to the chest by means of compressions. By applying this external pressure, blood is squeezed from the heart and chest cavity and circulated through the rest of the body, thus allowing for blood flow. Start CPR by interlocking your fingers and placing both hands on the breast bone of the chest. This is right in the centre of the chest. Push down onto the breast bone, keeping your arms straight. Release the compression and repeat at a rate of at least 100 compressions per minute. CPR should only be stopped if your life is in danger, if you are physically exhausted to the point where you cannot continue or until help arrives. Should CPR be combined with mouth-to-mouth? We have watched movies and know that mouth-to-mouth is a requirement, right? Wrong. It is no longer required to do mouth-to-mouth during CPR. Why? Because it discourages people from starting CPR, delays the start of chest compressions (the most important element of CPR), and there is passive breathing between each chest compression. Research has shown that there is no difference in mortality (survival) when patients are given compression-only CPR or where mouth-to-mouth is performed intermittently. Remember, you could save a person’s life. Learn CPR.