Friday, October 4, 2013

CPR: Learning to Save A Life

CPR: Learning to Save A Life

                Imagine, you’re in a store, doing your weekly shopping, and a few short feet away from you, an elderly couple is doing the same. Suddenly, surprising, the husband collapses; he’s unconscious and doesn’t appear to be breathing. What would you do? Would you know what to do?

                In the scenario above, it is likely the patient suffered from sudden cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is a medical emergency and is more common than you may think. Unexpected cardiac arrest can lead to death within minutes, however, it is potentially reversible if treated early. One of the best tools for increasing the survival rate of cardiac arrest patients is the administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR.) CPR is performed on patients who are not breathing and do not have a pulse. There is no greater emergency. CPR has the effect of getting much-needed oxygen to the brain, where it can keep the nerves of the brain alive long enough for someone to get the patient's heart beating again.

                As of 2011, there were nearly 383,000 instances of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests; that’s almost 1,050 a day. Of these instances, 88 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home. Many of the victims appear healthy with no known heart disease or other risk factors. It is not the same as a heart attack and does not discriminate for age or gender. Anyone can be affected by cardiac arrest.

                With these statistics in mind, it is important to point out that 70 percent of Americans may feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they either do not know how to administer CPR or their training has significantly lapsed. This should be alarming as, statistically speaking, if called on to administer CPR in an emergency, the life you save is likely to be someone at home: a child, a spouse, a parent or a friend. To put it simply: The life you save with CPR is mostly likely to be someone you love.

                We cannot stress enough how beneficial it would be for more people to be trained in providing life-saving CPR. Effective bystander CPR provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival, but only 32 percent of cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander. Sadly, with so few administrating bystander CPR, there is only an 8 percent survival rate for cardiac arrests that occur outside the hospital. Whether it is someone you love or a complete stranger, by taking a CPR training course and engaging bystander CPR, you are giving someone a much better chance to survive.

                Anyone can learn CPR, and everyone should! By taking the course, you are empowering yourself to save a life. The course, led by a certified medical instructor, covers CPR and removing airway obstructions (choking) for adults, infants and children. This class also covers AED, ventilation devices, barriers for performing rescue breathing and two-person CPR techniques. You will also be provided with various information from how to take control of an emergency situation to facts and statistics that may surprise you. At the end of the course, the instructor will turn you on to Pulse Point. This is a free app that you can download onto your smartphone and it will alert you if there cardiac emergency in a public place. The location-aware application will alert trained citizens in the vicinity of the need for bystander CPR with the dispatch of advanced medical care.

                If you are interested in learning CPR, courses are offered through Sioux Falls Fire and Rescue. The course generally takes about two hours and allows up to 20 students. We strongly encourage you get your family, friends, and colleagues involved. There can never be too many people who know how to properly administer CPR in emergencies. Take the course and save a life!