What is a CPR?
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency procedure that is performed on people who are experiencing cardiac arrest. The purpose of CPR is to provide a flow of oxygenated blood to the brain, until other medical care can be administered to restore the person’s heartbeat and breathing. More than five minutes without oxygen can cause the human brain to suffer permanent damage. Performing CPR in a timely manner will increase a person’s chances of survival. As first aid, CPR when properly performed will keep blood flowing to the brain until emergency medical servies arrive.
The main action taken in performing CPR is called chest compression, which involves pressing down firmly and quickly on the center of the person’s chest. Experts say that compression should be done at a rate of about 100 compressions per minute. When possible, cardiopulmonary resuscitation also involves making sure that the person’s airway is clear of obstruction and supplying air to the lungs, either by mouth-to-mouth resuscitation or by using a special device that can blow air into the mouth. Chest compression is considered to be more important as recent studies have shown that rescue breaths provide minimal benefits. Therefore, experts say that compression-only CPR is sufficient.
CPR is often used when an automated external defibrillator (AED) is not available. Immediate action is considered vital; therefore people are advised to begin the procedure as soon as possible. In cases where only one person is available to provide emergency assistance, CPR should be performed prior to calling 911. After one minute of administering CPR, the individual helping the victim should then call 911 or quickly find someone who can and continue the procedure as soon as possible.
Someone who is about to perform CPR should make sure that the victim is lying on their back and on a relatively firm surface such as the ground or a floor. The person then kneels next to the victim’s upper body and places the heel of one hand on the breastbone located in the middle of the victim’s chest. The other hand should be placed on top of the first hand. Compression is done by quickly pressing downward about 2 inches (5.08 cm). As a rule, the individual providing help should keep his or her arms straight and use their body weight to press downward rather than using only the arms. Furthermore, it is recommended to provide about 100 compressions per minute.
Clearing the Airway
When more than one person is available to help and the individual providing assistance is well trained in CPR, rescue breaths can be provided to the victim. However, before this can be done, the victim’s airway should be checked to make sure that it is open and that no foreign objects are present. Next, align the victim’s head by gently tilting it backward until the chin is extended forward, which facilitates the opening of the mouth and airway. If an object can be seen blocking the victim’s airway, it should be removed carefully to ensure it does not travel further down the victim’s throat.
Once the victim’s head is tilted back, pinch the nose shut while covering the mouth with a tight seal preventing air from escaping. Additionally, the victim’s chest should visibly rise with each breath and at least two breaths should be provided after each set of 30 compressions. A device such as a bag valve mask, commonly called an Ambu Bag, can be used to provide rescue breaths. Another device used with cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a mouth cover that can be placed on the victim to help prevent the transmission of pathogens during the procedure.
Health experts strongly recommend CPR training for teenagers and adults, especially parents and other people who are responsible for watching over children. Classes are offered at many organizations and can be found in most communities for minimal cost or sometimes for free. CPR certification is valid for two years and requires a refresher course for recertification.
Who should take this CPR class?
Parents, grandparents, teachers, summer camp counselors, coaches, fitness instructors, foster care providers, social workers, nannies, babysitters (ten years or older), construction workers and those in the general workplace.
Children and Babies
When cardiopulmonary resuscitation is performed on children who are 1 to 8 years old, the technique is slightly different. Only one hand should be used to provide chest compression and the breaths should be gentler. Also, if only one person is available to provide help, CPR should be performed for two minutes before stopping to call for help or 911. On babies who are less than 1 year old, only two fingers should be used for the compression, which should be done by pressing downward for about 1.5 inches (3.8 cm).