How many of you know how to perform cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR)? How many of you know how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED)?
If someone was having trouble breathing, was unconscious and unresponsive or having a heart attack, would you know what to do? Of course your first instinct would be to call 911, but remember that it can take some time, depending on where you live, until medical help arrives.
Would you rather just sit and wait frantically or start administering CPR if you knew how?
Personally, I would want to take action and help increase their chances of survival. I couldn’t stand the thought of being helpless or not knowing what to do. It is a job requirement that I get trained in CPR every year because my part-time job is in an environment where people put constant physical strain on themselves and there is always a risk of a breathing or cardiopulmonary emergency. In the 5 years I have been on the job, I have not had to perform CPR or back blows and abdominal thrusts for a choking emergency, but I am thankful that I know how to. Safety is number one and it is my responsibility to ensure that everyone has a safe workout.
Some people would think that you only need to know these basic lifesaving skills if you were in a certain profession: doctor, nurse, lifeguard, caregiver, firefighter, EMS worker, police officer or personal trainer/group fitness instructor. These people are more likely to encounter an emergency situation (some on a daily basis) and thus it is imperative they know what to do when that situation arises.
However, there is always that one odd chance that you could be in that situation. While you may be hesitant to administer CPR to a stranger because you don’t know them, what if it was someone you knew? Or someone you loved?
Every second that passes by in an emergency counts.
CPR helps keep oxygenated blood flowing to the heart and brain until normal circulation can be restored. Early administration of CPR grants you a window of opportunity and buys you some time until the EMS arrives: 3 to 8 minutes in length.
Many people are afraid of doing something wrong or being sued by the victim or the victim’s family. In Canada, there are laws in place, such as the Good Samaritan law to prevent a person who has voluntarily helped from being sued for wrongdoing.
Another fear people have is contracting a disease from the victim. The risk of transfer or infection to someone helping a victim is extremely small and practically negligible. There have been no reports of people acquiring HIV or the Hepatitis B virus through mouth to mouth resuscitation. The risk can be further minimized through the use of a barrier device when administering CPR, using gloves, or goggles. If none of those are available, you can always improvise by using a plastic bag or paper towel and cut a hole in the middle.
First aid and CPR courses are available year round and from many different organizations such as the Red Cross or through your local emergency medical services. They are inexpensive courses that teach you the different techniques of CPR, such as CPR for adults, children and learning how to use the AED. Regarding the AED, it’s nothing like in the movies. There aren’t two huge paddles and nobody yells “CLEAR!!” It is a very simple device to use that gives clear, simple instructions out loud on what to do. It will actually advise you whether or not a shock is needed for the victim.
If you were to choose one course for general interest or wanted to learn a new skill, I would highly recommend learning CPR and/or First Aid. The cost of a course and a few hours of your time are worth it to gain skills that could save a person’s life.
Note: There is an expiry date on the certification and while it may not be necessary to re-certify every year because it is not required, I would recommend that one should do the re-certification process to refresh their memory and technique. When I first took a CPR course years ago, the protocol was two breaths and 15 compressions. It is currently two breaths and 30 compressions.
References: CPR & AED Manual, Can Fit Pro and Rescue 7 Inc. Copyright 2011