What is CPR?
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a technique a rescuer uses to cause a person’s heart to beat when it has stopped, as in a heart attack or near-drowning incident. Anyone can be trained in about 8 hours to learn this lifesaving procedure. Fewer than one third of victims of cardiac arrest receive CPR from someone nearby, according to the American Heart Association. Many lives could be saved if more people were ready to perform this maneuver.
You’ve Seen It Done
Most of us have seen CPR administered on TV or in movies. It is a tense moment in the drama when a key character suddenly drops to the floor or is hauled from a lake or swimming pool. An unlikely hero kneels over the unconscious person, positions their head then begins rhythmically pushing on their chest. Meanwhile, someone else calls 911 for emergency response service. The drama continues as the rescuer continues to push on the victim’s chest until the medics arrive. The ambulance personnel tell the rescuer that he has saved the life of the victim by giving CPR and congratulate him before driving away.
You May Have Been Trained
CPR has been around for a long time. Many people have had CPR training through some organization, their work, a first aid course or other community activity. Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts and similar youth organizations often sponsor a CPR training for their members. Some employers require it of their employees and sponsor a training every couple of years. But while it has been around for a while, CPR has also changed over the years.
In years past, mouth to mouth resuscitation was coordinated with CPR. While this looks great in the movies when the shy hero has been too bashful to kiss the heroine, many people are hesitant to press their mouth to a stranger’s. The Mayo Clinic notes that hands only CPR can be as effective as the complete CPR with rescue breathing and chest compressions. In fact, those who have been trained but may be rusty are still encouraged to give chest compressions at the rate of about 100 per minute if they are confronted with a situation needing CPR.
When the heart stops beating, the lack of oxygen can cause brain damage in a matter of a few minutes. Death can follow in 8 to 10 minutes- that’s usually longer than it takes an ambulance to arrive. CPR really does mean the difference between life and death.
Or Maybe You Have Never Been Trained
Even if you have never been trained, the American Heart Association encourages you to begin chest compressions immediately. The hands only CPR technique involves only two steps: 1) call 911. 2) If the victim is a teen or an adult and is unconscious, then push fast and hard on the breast bone in the center of the chest at the rate of one hundred beats a minute. To see how this is performed, you can watch a short video clip from the American Heart Association here.
Seek out CPR training in your community. You have the ability to save someone’s life. You might not feel confident, but even if you are untrained don’t be afraid to check if an adult or teen is unconscious and call 911 if needed.