Friday, November 09, 2007
Learn to save a life in one hour
Pump and blow. These are the basic tenets of CPR. Sounds simple, and it is, yet millions of Americans are not trained.

Why does this matter? Because only 1 in 10 people who suffer cardiac arrest outside of a hospital setting will survive. That statistic is worth repeating: 1 in 10 survive, meaning 9 of 10 will DIE.

This is an abysmal number, and the only way to improve upon it is for Americans to learn CPR.

In response to that urgent need, the small, student-run EMS service at Emory University here in Atlanta, Georgia, recently held the largest CPR training event in history.

"We trained over 600 people in 3 days," said Josh Rozell, chief of Emory EMS. "If we had only trained one person in CPR and that person had saved a life, we would be successful."

They're using a new technique called CPR Anytime -- a kit that's available to anyone for about $30 from the American Heart Association -- that employs a pay-it-forward-like idea.

In a one-hour session, you learn how to perform CPR using this kit. You then take the kit home and use it to teach five of your friends. Each of them can borrow your kit or buy one of his or her own, and share it with five friends, and so on. The number of trained life savers increases exponentially.

In fact, in Atlanta, a city with one of the worst cardiac arrest survival rates, Mayor Shirley Franklin employed this technique to get more than 30,000 city employees trained in CPR in about six months.

I can't save you the $30 it costs to get this kit, but, as an EMT myself, I can at least share the basics of CPR with you here, with the help of the American Heart Association's Heartsaver CPR instructions. Who knows? It could help you save a life, but it does not replace a CPR course!

Remember, you should not attempt to do CPR if the victim is conscious or breathing or if doing CPR puts your life in danger (for example, on the side of busy a highway).

Step 1: Shake and shout

If you see someone collapse or lying on the ground motionless, make sure they're not just asleep. Sounds silly, but they won't be too happy with you if they are just asleep, and you start pumping on their chest, so just shake them and shout "Hey! Can you hear me? Are you OK?"

Step 2: Call 911

If the victim does not respond, call 911. This should go without saying, but you'd be surprised how easy it is to forget this step in the heat of the moment.

Step 3: Open the airway

Oftentimes, when unconscious, a person's tongue can obstruct the airway. The easiest way to remedy this is to simply tilt the head back. So, place one palm on the person's forehead, and 2 fingers from the other hand under their chin, and tilt backwards gently.

Step 4: Check for breathing

Spend about 10 seconds looking at the victim's chest, listening to hear whether he or she is breathing, and attempting to feel the person breathing on your cheek.

Step 5: Rescue breaths

With the victim's head tilted slightly, pinch the nose and give 2 breaths (1 second each) into the victim's mouth.

Step 6: Begin chest compressions

Quickly move or remove clothes from the front of the chest that will get in the way of doing compressions. Place the heel and palm of one hand on the center of the victim's chest, directly between the nipples. Put the heel of your other hand on top of the first hand and push straight down on the chest 1.5 to 2 inches with each compression. Push hard and fast, at a rate of 100 compressions a minute.

Step 7: 30:2 ratio

Do 30 chest compressions, followed by two more breaths. Continue to do cycles of 30 compressions and two breaths until the victim regains consciousness, someone arrives with an automated external defibrillator, or AED (you may have seen these in airports, shopping malls and other public spaces) or professional help arrives.

These are the basic steps, and they can help you save lives. These instructions by no means replace a CPR course, and I would encourage you to find a course in your area by clicking here, or purchase a CPR Anytime kit for you and your family by clicking here.

I'm curious... Would you be more likely to learn CPR if you could do it in the comfort of your own home for only a few bucks?
I read very recently that you should only do the chest compressions and not the's not called CPR, it's called CCR (cardio-cerebral resuscitation). That made a lot of sense to me to keep the brain oxygenated (also more people would be willing to do just the compressions..)So what is it gonna be? CPR or CCR? Thank you
No, I don't think it would make a difference where you learn your CPR. Either you are interested in the course and saving lives or you are not.

Most people don't know how to go about getting started in the program. Whom to turn to. The Fire department? Your local Hospital? A university? If only the program was advertised to a greater extent.

I myself have CPR certification. The class was relatively simple and easy to follow. Although one on one training was lacking. I have yet to use CPR, and hope I never have to, but am willing and able to should anything happen.

I do believe this simple class should be taught in our highschools. Everyone should know how to save a life.
Dear Matt Sloane

Thank you so much for covering this
useful info. I learned a lot from
reading it.
I think that we have to know CPR is
an important and indispensable guide as a common sense.
So it is worth learning. Recently the number of heart disease patients is increasing. There-fore
the early resuscitation of the patient by the first witness can increase early recovery.
When someone has heart attack he or she should be treated by CPR or by artificial respiration within 4 minutes if not, CPR is supposed to develop into brain death and then if it continues more over 5 minutes
he or she will die...
I hope that all of us will be life-savers when if is emergent. But I really hope that I shouldn't be a life-saver by CPR for my loving persons around me....
Thanks again for sharing this with us.

Changing the subject, during we were watching "AC360 show" segment
Planet in Peril roundtable discussion on last Thursday night,8th. I saw Dr.Sanjay Gupta whose left hand was bandaged, so I was surprised. I've had same experience. In my experience, it was very inconvenient when I took shower with my hand bandaged.
Sincerely I hope his feeling better soon. :-)
The idea behind CCR (cardiocerebral resuscitation) is that someone whose heart has recently stopped still has some reserve oxygen in their blood stream, and the compressions will move it around to the starving tissues. It may be more palatable to the bystander rescuer, since it doesn't involve mouth to mouth breathing. This may result in more attempts to save lives. Most cardiac arrests occur at home, and the time for EMS to arrive is too long for no one to provide some form of CPR.

The American Heart Association and the American Red Cross both have CPR classes for all levels of training. The Family and Friends CPR Anytime Kit is a great addition to the AHA arsenal.
I enjoyed your piece on CPR and wanted to share my daughter's experience with you. She was just released from hospital after suffering a severe asthma attack with complete respritory arrest. If her husband had not been with her she would have died.

He gave her CPR without the chest compression just the breathes.

thank you
The American Heart Association and the American Red Cross both have CPR classes for all levels of training.

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Dear Matt Sloane,

I had never thought about CPR until my son went into cardiac arrest.
In July of 1998 while he and his girlfriend was purchasing fireworks my son went into cardiac arrest. As bystanders looked upon his girlfriend began giving breaths and screaming for help. An ambulance was nearby and took over the scene with the aid of a defibrillator and brought him back to life. This act of faith occured in the downtown part of a city.
My sons sudden death was from an ventricular arrhythmia that caused his heart to beat at a rapid pace that it sent him into cardiac arrest. If he and his girlfriend had not been where they were I feel that he would of died.
Not knowing if I would be faced with the same circumstances I went and took a CPR course.
So, what proportion of people who have a cardiac arrest inside a hospital setting survive?
Roughly 18% of people who arrest inhospital survive to discharge nationwide. About 6% of out-of-hospital arrests survive to discharge.
I like the idea of the class being required (with certification test) in high schools. I've been CPR certified since I was 14, and I am now 22. I've never had to use it, but when I was a babysitter, letting the parents know I knew first aid and CPR definitely made them breathe easier. Knowing basic stuff like CPR and first aid would help this country so much - we would see fewer deaths and serious injuries from simple mistakes (not knowing the heimlich or CPR, not knowing how to address serious bleeding, knowing not to move people who have been in a car accident). Anyway, if you want to learn CPR, your local police or fire station or EMT team at a college should be more than willing to teach.
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