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Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a life-saving emergency procedure used to revive individuals who are in cardiac arrest or experiencing a sudden cessation of heart and lung function. CPR is essential because it can maintain blood flow to vital organs, especially the brain, until professional medical help arrives. Here's an overview of CPR, its steps, and some key considerations:
Basic CPR Steps:
Check for Safety: Before approaching the victim, ensure the environment is safe for both you and the victim. Check for hazards like traffic, fire, or electrical dangers.
Assess Responsiveness: Tap the victim and shout loudly, "Are you okay?" If there's no response, the person might be unresponsive and in need of CPR.
Call for Help: If you are alone, call emergency services (911 or your local emergency number) immediately. If there is someone nearby, instruct them to make the call while you start CPR.
Open the Airway: Gently tilt the victim's head backward and lift the chin to open the airway. This helps ensure a clear passage for air to enter and exit the lungs.
Check for Breathing: Look, listen, and feel for breathing. Place your ear close to the victim's mouth while watching their chest for any rise and fall. If there is no breathing or only irregular gasping, begin CPR.
Position your hands on the centre of the victim's chest (usually between the nipples). Lock your elbows and use your upper body weight to push down hard and fast at a rate of about 100-120 compressions per minute.
Allow the chest to fully recoil between compressions.
Rescue Breaths (If Trained): After 30 chest compressions (15 compressions for infants), give two rescue breaths. Pinch the victim's nose shut and cover their mouth with yours. Give each breath over about one second, ensuring the chest rises visibly.
Continue CPR: Repeat cycles of 30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths until the victim shows signs of life, trained help arrives, or you are physically unable to continue.
AED (Automated External Defibrillator): If an AED is available, use it as soon as possible. It can analyse the victim's heart rhythm and deliver an electric shock if necessary to restore a normal heartbeat.
Compression Depth and Rate: Compressions should be at least 2 inches (5 cm) deep for adults and children, and about 1.5 inches (4 cm) for infants. Maintain a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute.
Hands-Only CPR: If you are untrained or uncomfortable with rescue breaths, you can perform hands-only CPR (chest compressions only). It's better than doing nothing.
Do Not Interrupt Compressions: Minimise interruptions during chest compressions to maximise blood flow.
Rotate Rescuers: If there are multiple people available, rotate rescuers every 2 minutes to avoid fatigue.
Continue Until Help Arrives: Continue CPR until professional medical help arrives, the victim starts breathing, or you are physically unable to continue.
CPR is a crucial skill that can make a significant difference in the outcome of a cardiac arrest. While this overview provides the basic steps, it is essential to take a certified CPR course to gain hands-on experience and ensure you are up to date with the latest guidelines and techniques. Being prepared and knowing CPR can save lives in emergency situations.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is CPR?
CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. It is an emergency procedure performed to manually maintain blood circulation and provide oxygen to the brain and other vital organs when a person's heart has stopped beating or is beating ineffectively, or when they are not breathing.
2. Who should learn CPR?
CPR is a valuable skill that everyone should consider learning. It can be especially beneficial for parents, teachers, caregivers, healthcare professionals, and anyone who may find themselves in a situation where CPR is needed.
3. What is the purpose of CPR?
The primary goal of CPR is to keep oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs when the heart and lungs are not functioning effectively. This procedure can buy time until professional medical help arrives.
4. When should I perform CPR?
Perform CPR if you encounter an unresponsive person who is not breathing normally or has no pulse. Always ensure the scene is safe and call for professional help (call 911 or your local emergency number) before starting CPR.
5. Should I perform CPR if I'm not trained?
If you are untrained or uncomfortable with rescue breaths, you can perform hands-only CPR (chest compressions only). It's better to do something than nothing in such a situation.
6. How do I perform CPR on infants and children?
CPR for infants and children follows similar principles but with adjustments in compression depth and technique. For infants (up to 1 year old), use two fingers to compress the chest about 1.5 inches (4 cm) deep. For children (1 to 8 years old), use one or two hands for compressions, about 2 inches (5 cm) deep.
7. What is an AED, and should I use one during CPR?
An AED (Automated External Defibrillator) is a portable device that can analyze a person's heart rhythm and deliver an electric shock if needed to restore a normal heartbeat. If an AED is available, use it as soon as possible. It provides step-by-step instructions and is safe to use.
8. How fast should I perform chest compressions during CPR?
The recommended rate for chest compressions in CPR is about 100-120 compressions per minute. You can follow the beat of the song "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees as a helpful guide for compression rhythm.
9. Can I cause harm by performing CPR on someone who doesn't need it?
While CPR can be physically intense, it is unlikely to cause harm if performed correctly. If a person doesn't require CPR, they may experience some discomfort, but it's a small price to pay for attempting to save a life.
10. Do I have to continue CPR until professional help arrives?
Yes, it's crucial to continue CPR until professional medical help arrives, the person shows signs of life, or you are physically unable to continue. Consistent chest compressions are vital for maintaining blood flow to the brain and other organs during a cardiac arrest.