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  • Staying Alive: Learning CPR Without Formal Training

    “Ah, ha, ha, ha, stayin' alive, stayin' alive
    Ah, ha, ha, ha, Stayin' ali-i-i-ive”

    -- Stayin’ Alive, Bee Gees, 1977


    An earworm of a 1977 disco song could help save lives. The beat of the Bee Gees song “Stayin’ Alive” happens to be about 100 beats per minute, or the rate a rescuer should push on a patient’s chest while doing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

    Learn Learning CPR could help save lives - via American Red Cross

    Using this song and a one-minute instructional video, the American Heart Association hopes to help more people learn basic, chest compression-only CPR. It can double or triple the chances for someone in cardiac arrest to survive, said Jennifer Merback, communications and marketing director for the American Heart Association of Utah and Nevada.

    According to the American Heart Association, 88 percent of cardiac arrests take place at home. Yet fewer than 8 percent of people who suffer cardiac arrest outside the hospital survive. One main reason: only one in three cardiac arrest victims get CPR from a bystander.

    “It’s that few seconds right before (emergency medical personnel) get there that are really important. It’s key to survival,” said Josh Schroeder, a firefighter-paramedic for the Lake City, Texas fire department.

    Schroeder described one incident in which a woman at home in the middle of the night called 911 to report a family member wasn’t breathing. When a person’s heart stops, oxygenated blood stops flowing to the brain, which can begin to cause brain damage in a few minutes. Death can take place within 8 to 10 minutes, according to the Mayo Clinic.

    Fortunately, she knew what to do. She began CPR while she was on the phone.

    “Because she called 911 immediately and because she jumped on chest compressions immediately, he survived,” Schroeder said.

    Most Americans – 70 percent, according to the American Heart Association – feel like they’d be helpless in a cardiac emergency because they don’t know CPR or have forgotten how to administer it.

    “Obviously we’d love for people to get CPR certified,” Merback said. But a lack of formal training shouldn’t stop someone from trying to help.


    So, here’s how someone without formal training can administer hands-only CPR to an older child or adult, without rescue breathing, according to the American Red Cross. Some studies suggest that hands-only CPR can work as well as regular CPR, Merback said.

    1. Make sure the scene is safe, “so you’re not performing CPR around downed power lines,” said Merback.
    2. Check if the older child or adult is conscious or unconscious. If conscious, get permission to call 911 for any life-threatening condition. If unconscious, tap or shake the person’s shoulder and ask, loudly, “Are you OK?” Quickly look for breathing by gently tilting the person’s head back, lifting the chin and putting your ear close to their mouth. Occasional gasps are not breathing. If the person is breathing, keep the head back to keep the airway open and call 911.
    3. If you don’t get a response, call 911.
    4. If the person is unresponsive and not breathing, begin chest compressions. If you can, put the 911 dispatcher on speaker phone and begin chest compressions while on the phone. When possible, use disposable gloves. The Red Cross sells a key chain for $4 with a face shield for rescue breaths and disposable gloves.


    Here’s how to do chest compressions.

    1. CPR ExamplePut the heel of one hand on the center of the chest.
    2. Place the heel of the other hand on top of the first hand and lace your fingers together.
    3. Keeping arms straight, position your shoulders directly over your hands.
    4. Push hard and fast, keeping elbows locked and letting the chest rise completely before pushing down again. Compress the chest at least two inches and 100-120 times per minute. That’s as fast as the song “Stayin’ Alive.” Try singing it in your head, since you won’t be able to get it out of your brain anyway.
    5. Don’t stop except in one of the following situations: The person begins breathing on their own. Another trained responder arrives to help. EMS personnel arrive and take over. You’re too exhausted. An AED is ready. Or, the scene becomes unsafe.

    People often don’t press fast or hard enough. Broken ribs are OK.
    “You’re trying to squish their heart between their sternum and their backbone,” said Jon Kerkmann, a respiratory therapist who works at Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, Utah.

    Mostly, don’t be afraid. Good Samaritan laws in most states protect people who try to help, Merback said.

    “They’re already dead if you don’t do something. You’re not going to hurt them anymore,” said Kerkmann.

    And if possible, take a CPR class and get trained in using an AED. Classes are available through the American Red Cross and the American Heart Association.


    What are some other life-saving skills you have? Let us know in the comments!


    Disaster_Blog_Banner - CPR

  • First Aid Basics: How to Perform CPR

    CPR stands for Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, and is used to re-start heart and lung function in a victim who has collapsed and has no obvious breathing or pulse.

    Older man oerforming CPR on a young man.

    The old CPR guidelines were easily remembered by the letters “A-B-C,” referring to “airway,” “breathing,” and “circulation.” The new guidelines have put circulation first, so that the acronym to remember is now “C-A-B.” This is because it is considered most important to keep blood flowing to the brain while you’re working on breathing or until help arrives. If you see someone collapse or come across an unconscious person, quickly evaluate the situation:

    • Fist, determine if the victim is breathing. If they are, no CPR is necessary; call 911.
    • If they are not breathing but have a pulse, begin rescue breathing (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation).
    • If there is no breathing or pulse, perform CPR to try to restore both. If the cause is drowning or suffocation, apply chest compressions for one minute, then call 911.
    • In any case, stay with the victim until medical help arrives. Leaving the scene is called abandonment, and you could be held legally responsible.


    Here is a summary of the new CPR instructions:

    1.)     Call 911 or ask someone else to do so.

    2.)    Touch the victim and ask in a loud voice, “Are you okay? Can you hear me?” (For an infant, tickle the bottom of the feet.) If there is no response, turn them onto their back and kneel beside their chest.

    3.)    Position the heel of one hand in the middle of the chest—between the nipples is usually the right spot—and place your other hand over the first, with fingers interlaced. Kneeling up with your arms straight, begin chest compressions. Use your upper body weight as well as arm strength. The chest should go down at least two inches for adults and children up to 12, and about 1.5 inches in an infant. (Use just two fingers to compress an infant’s chest.) Compress about twice per second. If you’re familiar with the song, “Stayin’ Alive,” (an appropriate title!), the rhythm is just right: “Ah, ah, ah, ah—stayin’ alive, stayin’ alive.” Continue until help arrives, OR…

    4.)    If you’re trained in CPR, after about 30 compressions you can open the person’s airway with a head tilt and chin lift. Turn the head slightly to one side and gently push the chin up. Using your index finger, sweep the inside of the person’s mouth to be sure there is no obvious obstruction present, such as a displaced dental bridge.

    5.)    Pinch the victim’s nose closed and cover their mouth with yours to create an airtight seal. Give 2 one-second breaths, watching for the chest to rise, allowing a second or two between breaths for the chest to fall again. (For an infant, administer 2 puffs of air, not deep breaths.) Ideally, you will have a helper—one person to do chest compressions and the other to do the rescue breathing. Note: if you’re squeamish about mouth-to-mouth resuscitation because of germs or other considerations, you might want to carry a barrier device such as Emergency Essentials’ CPR Microshield Clear Mouth Barrier in your car First-aid Kit.

    6.)    Continue alternating 2 breaths with 30 chest compressions. If you detect a pulse or if the person begins breathing on their own (not just occasional gasps), you can stop CPR, but stay around until help arrives. CPR can be exhausting, and most people can’t continue it for much longer than 5 minutes. Enlist the aid of other bystanders when you tire.

    7.)    If you’ve tried your best to help, you can feel good about your service, whatever the end result for the victim may be—and hopefully that will be an extension of his or her life.






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