One out of 20 people will suffer a cardiac arrest in their lifetime; fewer than 25 percent of people are prepared to jump into action to help that person survive the event.
Would you know what to do if someone’s heart suddenly stopped? How confident would you be to take the steps to save someone’s life?
One out of 20 sounds like good odds. Maybe you’re thinking you won’t be the person relying on a bystander. But what if I told you 50 percent of all cardiac arrests are witnessed by a bystander, and that 70 percent of cardiac arrests happen at home? Now we are talking about a loved one that could be in need of help and in a hurry. With chances of survival dropping drastically after 10 minutes, the importance of providing quality cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the first minutes of cardiac arrest is imperative.
5 Basic Steps of CPR
- The first step is to recognize the emergency and determine if CPR is necessary. Symptoms of sudden cardiac arrest include but are not limited to: loss of consciousness, no pulse, no breathing and/or a racing heartbeat.
- If you make the decision that CPR is necessary, you need to call for help. Instructing someone around you to call 911 is best because, again, it is important to start CPR as soon as possible. If possible send someone for an automated external defibrillator (AED) for good measure as well.
- With the person lying on his/her back, listen for breathing sounds. If there is no breathing, begin CPR by giving chest compressions. Push hard; the most recent AHA guidelines say to reach a depth of at least two (2) inches, not more than two and a half (2.4 to be exact). And you want to reach a compression rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute*. An AED is especially helpful at guiding you through the proper technique for compressions.
- Give rescue breaths. With the person's head tilted back slightly and the chin lifted, pinch the nose shut and place your mouth over the person's mouth to make a complete seal. Blow into the person's mouth to make the chest rise. Deliver two rescue breaths, then continue compressions.
- Continue CPR steps. Keep performing cycles of chest compressions and breathing until the person exhibits signs of life, such as breathing, an AED becomes available, or EMS or a trained medical responder arrives and is able to take over.
While these five steps seem straight forward, please keep in mind that quality CPR is the key in a situation like this.
If you are reading this, I hope you, like me, are signing up for a class to enhance your CPR capabilities. Maybe you feel you are already capable of handling the above situation. Remember, quality CPR takes practice to maintain the skills it requires.
Pocket Nurse encourages everyone to be certified in CPR. Our CPR manikins and AED units are invaluable for skills training. Check out our American Heart Association compliant manikins to make sure you are providing the most up-to-date education for people seeking certification in CPR.
Justin Pratt is the Account Manager for the West region. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: SimTalk Blog originally cited, "Push hard, striving for a depth on the compression of two inches, and push fast, aiming for 100 compressions per minute." These numbers were from 2010.