Learn CPR; you may keep someone “stayin’ alive”!
When I was about 8 years old I was shopping on the Main Street with my mother, Peggy, when an elderly gentleman fell on the footpath nearby clutching his chest. A few people knelt down to help him while a small crowd gathered and looked on helplessly. Suddenly a younger chap stepped forward, knelt down and started pumping his chest and straight away we could see the colour returning to the prone man’s face. I was ushered away before the ambulance arrived but my mother explained that the young guy was trying to save the older man’s life by doing CPR. I don’t know what the elderly gentleman’s fate was but I remember thinking the younger chap was amazing and I had just seen a real life superhero.
Down through the years I have heard of many more cases where CPR has indeed saved lives. Last year in Dublin city centre, a heroic nurse Aoife McGivney, intervened and saved the life of a city bus driver near O’Connell Bridge who suffered a cardiac emergency while driving his bus.
So what is CPR? Well, CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and is a life-saving emergency procedure performed to keep the victim’s brain functioning until further medical assistance is available. It is performed on people who are unresponsive with no breathing. Most people who suffer cardiac arrest do not get CPR, which greatly reduces their chances of survival. Getting CPR training could help you save a life someday.
In my previous job a number of us in each department and on each floor were trained as Cardiac First Responders which is a fantastic idea for any employer to do where there are many staff employed. These courses are accredited by the Pre-Hospital Emergency Care Council and run by Safety Ireland, one of the accredited organisations to give these training courses in Ireland. During the training course, we learnt:
The last CPR training course I did at work was in March 2017. Little did I know then that in less than 3 months I would survive my own massive stroke. Mine took place in hospital where I was surrounded by well-trained and equipped medical staff. However, I’d like to think that if it had happened to me somewhere else there would have been someone there who would have known what to do.
In Ireland, the Hands for Life programme run by The Irish Heart Foundation sponsored by ESB Networks is currently offering free CPR training to communities across Ireland to build a nation of lifesavers. Check online here to see if there is a course offered near you. (Note there may be some disruption to courses currently because of Covid-19).
CPR - What to Do
If you don’t have time perhaps to do a formal course, you might find this useful. Should a cardiac emergency happen near you and you're not sure what to do, memorise the followings steps:
Step 1: If you see a person suddenly collapse, check for a response. Call their name and shake them gently on the shoulder.
Step 2: If there is no response call 112 or 999 (or 911 in the US) immediately to get help on the way. Better still get someone else to make the call or put your phone on speaker while you start chest compressions.
Step 3: To start chest compressions if the person is still not responding and is not breathing normally, first make sure the person is lying flat on their back on the ground. Kneel close beside them and place your two hands on the centre of their chest in line with their nipples, one on top of the other interlacing your fingers, and keep your arms straight.
Step 4: Start compressions. Push hard and fast. Push down at least five centimetres or two inches and push at a rate of 100-120 beats per minute. The Bee Gees song ‘Stayin’ Alive’ is the perfect CPR rhythm.
Keep doing compressions until the emergency services arrive. You may have to do this for an extended period of time. This can be tiring so be sure to have another person to take over as you rest.
You may also gain knowledge of how to do CPR by viewing online videos such as this one by by the Irish Heart Foundation:
So Why Again is CPR so Important?
“Every day in Ireland, 13 people die from a cardiac arrest,” says Tim Collins, CEO of the Irish Heart Foundation. “Around 70% of these happen at home in front of a loved one. If there is someone nearby who knows CPR and can start performing compressions quickly, you can double or even triple a person’s chances of survival,” he adds.
In the US, over 350,000 cardiac arrests happen outside of a hospital setting. Considering they can do serious damage within a short amount of time, or can even be fatal, this is an alarmingly high number. While you can’t stop cardiac arrests from happening, you can certainly be proactive and help mitigate the damage.
Finally, here are 8 good reasons to undergo formal CPR training
1. You’ll Save Lives; perhaps even in your own Family!
The most obvious and rewarding reason to learn CPR is that you can save lives. Even if you only know the basics, it can be enough to help circulate the person’s blood until you either get more advanced tools or an ambulance arrives on the scene.
If you happen upon someone who is going into cardiac arrest, you can just walk on and hope someone else who knows CPR can help. But if you know CPR, then you can jump in and provide vital help in those crucial moments.
7 out of 10 cardiac arrests happen at home. While mostly older, more out-of-shape people experience this, your children and healthy spouse can potentially have cardiac arrests as well. That means there a chance of this happening to any family member in your household.
If you and/or your loved ones know how to perform CPR, you can drastically improve their chances of survival. You’ll buy time for the ambulance to arrive and take you and/or your loved ones to the hospital.
2. Feel Less Panicked in Emergencies
Everyone goes into a panic while there’s an emergency. Although you may have a vague idea of how to do CPR, you may suddenly forget everything if you’re faced with a real person going into cardiac arrest.
When you’ve been through proper CPR training, you’ll pretty much have muscle memory for this procedure. That means when someone collapses and you feel anxious, your body will kick into gear and handle things efficiently.
3. It’s Easy
You may be scared to learn CPR; it’s a lifesaving procedure after all, so it must be hard to get a hang of, right? You couldn’t be more wrong. While it can save someone’s life, CPR doesn’t require you to know rocket science.
As said above CPR involves chest compressions done to the beat of Bee Gee’s tune “Stayin’ Alive.” Fitting, isn’t it?
Usually, it can involve you doing mouth-to-mouth as well, but if you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you can just do hands-only CPR. While giving occasional breaths is more helpful, doing chest compressions is better than doing nothing at all.
4. Stop Brain Death
In cardiac arrest, the heart stops pumping, which means your body isn’t getting the blood flow it needs. In your blood is precious oxygen your various body parts need in order to function correctly.
One major organ that needs blood is your brain. When cardiac arrest happens, your brain won’t receive oxygen, which means the cells will start dying. In about 5 minutes, you can experience brain death. I know this only too well as my stroke was caused by brain clots that also caused parts of my brain to die!
Once brain death happens, this means you start losing some of your brain function, permanently. What CPR does is prolong the time to brain death.
How? When you’re doing chest compressions, you’re essentially taking over the beating function for your heart. While it’s not as effective as the heart itself, at least it’s getting some blood and oxygen to your vital organs, especially your brain.
5. Learn a Valuable Life Skill
You know how the saying goes: knowledge is power. Even if you never have to use CPR, at least you’ve learned this skill.
Since it’s so easy to do, you’ll remember it for years to come, if not forever. You can then teach it to others. Who knows, they may save someone’s life because of what you’ve taught them.
In my own case I doubt if I’d be physically strong enough in my arms after my stroke to carry out CPR compressions on a man. However, I would definitely be able to advise someone else on what to do.
6. Great to have on your CV or Resume when Job-Seeking
For many nannying, babysitting, or teaching jobs involving young children, listing CPR on your CV/resume can give you a leg up on the competition. Parents are leaving their precious children under your care, so when they read you have critical lifesaving skills, they’ll have more peace of mind about leaving their kids with you.
To date so few members of the general public are trained in CPR (unfortunately) that this would place you way above your competition when it comes to applying for jobs.
7. You’ll Get to Learn How to Use an AED
An AED (automatic electronic defibrillator) is a device used to get the heart pumping normally again. Usually, you’d perform CPR until you get your hands on an AED or paramedics arrive and use the ones they have on hand.
Since the use of AEDs is so widespread now, CPR classes will usually teach you how to use these devices as well. As a result, you’ll be even better equipped to handle emergency situations when people go into cardiac arrest.
8. You’ll learn Mouth-to-mouth Resuscitation
One of the main reasons why bystanders choose not to administer CPR is the hesitancy to perform mouth-to-mouth. Of course, giving mouth-to-mouth to a stranger might be too much for some people. Some are also concerned with the health risks involved in mouth-to-mouth.
The good news is mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is not necessary for people who don’t feel comfortable doing it. Back in 2010 the guidelines for CPR were changed, with revised guidelines saying that people who have no formal training, or those who do not feel comfortable, should attempt hands-only CPR. Hands-only CPR has been shown to be just as effective for many adult patients of cardiac arrest. But a formal training course gives you the knowledge and the option of doing it.
Now You Know the Importance of CPR
It’s evident that CPR is of huge importance. It can literally mean the difference between life and death for someone!
Seeing as Joe/ Josephine Public can help tremendously with cardiac arrests, you should highly consider learning CPR, as well as get an AED for your home or business. With the proper training for both, you can help save some lives. Ask your employer if they’d organise training in the workplace.
If you’re not interested in training, I still hope that you have found the above helpful and memorable…..and hopefully you’ll never have to use it.
Bucket List Items Ticked Off in the above Blog post
Number 46 - Giving Back - Learn to do CPR
Other Blog Posts
Blog 11 - Sydney, Australia
Blog 12 - Hong Kong, China
Blog 17 - Beijing, Xi'an & Shanghai, China
Blog 19 - California, USA
Blog 27 - Scotland
Blog 28 - Barbados
Blog 29 - Canada
Blog 30 - Alaska
Blog 31 - Everglades, Florida
Blog 36 - Organise a Themed Party
Have you ever had to perform CPR? Tell me about your experience in the comments section below.
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My name is Mary and this is my bucket list blog ...having survived a near-death experience. I hope it encourages you to "live your best life". See how I'm completing my own bucket list items. And let me know how you're getting on with yours!