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CPR: What you need to know in an emergency situation

CareNow® - June 22, 2017

Hands practicing chest compressions for CPR on test dummy

Imagine this scenario: You are playing a game of soccer with friends when a teammate suddenly drops to the ground. After shouting his name and repeatedly tapping his shoulder, you realize your friend is not responding, and even worse – he doesn’t appear to be breathing.

Would you know the correct steps to take in this situation? When every second counts, don’t let yourself be unprepared. Learn about CPR and why it is important to become certified.

CPR

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation – more commonly referred to as CPR – is an emergency procedure that manually restores blood circulation and breathing to an unconscious person. It requires no special equipment or medical devices. The American Red Cross provides CPR training classes and grants certifications – nearly anybody can learn to perform CPR in an emergency.

Please note this article serves to educate on CPR guidelines and does not qualify as CPR training. For more information on accredited CPR certification and classes, visit the American Red Cross website to sign up for a class near you!

Right Place at the Right Time

As an emergency develops, you should know when CPR is the best course of action. You should only administer CPR if a person has stopped breathing entirely and is unresponsive.

The first step is to direct someone nearby to call 911. If no one else is present during the emergency, call 911 yourself.

If a person stops breathing, he or she may be undergoing cardiac arrest. During cardiac arrest, the heart suddenly stops beating due to a problem with the heart’s electrical system. A victim may experience a loss of consciousness during cardiac arrest – in these moments, you must administer emergency care right away. When a person undergoes cardiac arrest, permanent harm can result within four to six minutes. With so little time, you must act quickly to increase chances of success and survival.

Keep in mind that cardiac arrest is not the same condition as a heart attack, but a heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest. Only administer CPR if the victim has stopped breathing entirely. Heavy breathing or numbness, typical signs of a heart attack, are not the signs of cardiac arrest.

Cardiac arrest is not associated with age, lifestyle or pre-existing heart conditions. As we will explore later, accidental factors such as suffocation, drowning or choking can cause cardiac arrest.

It is always a good idea to become certified in CPR training. You should especially consider certification if you have children in the home or swimmers in the family. A simple training session or class could potentially save the life of a loved one.

Stayin’ Alive

Now that you know the symptoms of cardiac arrest, we can begin sharing tips and techniques for administering CPR in an emergency. The overall goal of CPR is to temporarily take over or mimic the functions of the heart and pump blood throughout the body until emergency services arrive. 

The American Heart Association publishes guidelines on proper questions to ask before administering CPR. Once you or someone nearby has called 911 for emergency services, quickly assess the situation by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is the environment safe?
  • Does the person show signs of breathing?
  • Is the person responding to taps on their shoulder?

After assessing the situation, you may need to act quickly on your own or under the instruction of the 911 dispatcher to begin CPR immediately. Remember, if a person enters cardiac arrest, they may only have a few minutes before permanent damage occurs. The difference between hesitating and reacting could make all the difference.

Compressions

  • Place the person on his or her back and ensure they are on a flat surface.
  • Kneel next to the person’s shoulders.
  • Place the heel of your hand over the person’s chest between their nipples.
  • Place your hand on top of the first hand, keeping your elbows straight.
  • Position your shoulders directly above your hands.
  • Press down – or compress – with your entire upper body weight, so the chest moves down approximately two inches.
  • Continue pressing at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. A good trick to remember the correct timing and rhythm is to administer the compressions to the tempo of "Stayin’ Alive" by The Bee Gees.
  • Discontinue compressions when a victim shows signs of movement or breathing

If you are not trained or certified in CPR, continue with compression only ("hands Only") CPR until an AED arrives or trained individuals/emergency medical services personnel arrive.

Know the Risks

CPR can save a life and may double or triple the chances of survival after cardiac arrest. Get CPR certified to increase the chances of success in an emergency. Increase your chances of success even further by taking preventative measures to avoid emergencies altogether.

The American Heart Association (AHA) has created a short instructional video to watch the Hands-Only CPR technique.

Hands-Only CPR is a basic introduction to CPR. Additional CPR courses for lay persons can be found in your area through the American Heart Association.

As we mentioned earlier, cardiac arrest can be caused by accidental injuries. The American Red Cross reports about 200 young children drown in backyard swimming pool accidents every year.

Make pool safety a priority to avoid drowning risks with these tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Secure your pool with barriers. A four-foot tall fence with a latch gate will prevent small children from wandering into the water.
  • Place a safety cover over your pool or hot tub when it is not being used.
  • Keep children under active supervision at all times.
  • Have young swimmers wear a life jacket or flotation devices, and stay within arm’s reach while in the water.

Drowning has serious health consequences such as brain damage and even death. Since you must act quickly to increase the chances of success and survival, ensure everyone in your household knows how to respond to drowning emergencies. Proper pool safety equipment should be readily available in your home if you own a pool or hot tub. Encourage your children to learn proper first aid and safety procedures, or sign up for a CPR class as a family.

Family practicing CPR on test dummy

Breathe Easy

Don’t be afraid to administer CPR if you believe it is necessary. Your actions can potentially save a life and make all the difference in someone’s survival. Review the latest studies and information provided by the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association to keep these life-saving techniques top of mind.

Take comfort in knowing a local CareNow Urgent Care facility is here for your family’s medical needs. Choosing a CareNow Urgent Care center means you don’t have to wait for an appointment and you don’t have the unnecessary cost of an ER for unavoidable medical accidents.

Thank you for trusting us with your care. You can breathe easy knowing a CareNow Urgent Care is nearby and ready for you. Don’t forget to use our Web Check-In to shorten your wait time.

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