Why You Should Learn How to Perform CPR

Everybody should. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is one of those life skills that HOPEFULLY you won’t need to use(unless you find yourself in emergency medicine like me), but you should definitely have on the off-chance that it’s you who is right there with someone who drops from cardiac arrest.

A lot of times it happens that someone will go into cardiac arrest, at which point surrounding friends/family members will start panicking(understandably) and call an ambulance. While this is important, you need to do more than call the ambulance. When the EMT’s and paramedics arrive, they will provide CPR, defibrillation, IV drugs, the whole deal, but those minutes before they arrive are crucial. Basically, when you drop in cardiac arrest, you have roughly four to six minutes to pray that somebody gets there and starts doing CPR or your brain will die.

When someone is in cardiac arrest, chances are that their heart is in ventricular fibrillation. This means that their heart is basically quivering with erratic activity that is in no way suitable for sustaining life. CPR, even if it is only pumping a little bit of poorly-oxygenated blood through your body, provides a few more minutes’ chance that is desparately needed.

Helping someone in cardiac arrest is a process known by EMS providers as the “chain of survival”(defined by the American Heart Association). This chain begins with Early Access, which means someone immediately calling 911(or any other specific emergency response numbers for that area)in the event of this emergency. That way, EMS providers can be dispatched to the scene as soon as possible.

The second part of the chain is Early CPR. Oftentimes someone witnessing a cardiac arrest(especially that of a loved one) will panic and end up doing nothing except calling 911, because in regards to CPR they are either completely untrained or not trained recently enough to feel confident in doing something. Usually it’s the former reason. CPR is something we’ve seen done on TV, but do you really know how far down you should be pumping someone’s chest to keep blood circulating, and how to properly supply breaths in between a certain amount of compressions, and that in some cases during CPR you can hear or feel the person’s sternum crack? That last occurrence is enough to scare anybody, but is generally a sign that you’re doing it right(It will heal later. What’s most important is for this person’s blood and oxygen to keep circulating).

There are two more links in the chain of survival: Early Defibrillation and Early Advanced Care, but the first two parts of the chain are where you come in and are vitally important. If you don’t know CPR, sign up for a community class and get certified. Or take a class through the American Red Cross or American Heart Association. These classes usually don’t take longer than 4 to 6 hours for one day(and sometimes they only take this long because some helpful basic First Aid training is provided, too.) Don’t remain an untrained onlooker. Learn how to do CPR well and know what symptoms to look for in a possible heart attack, so that you can be a confident source of immediate help in the face of a future emergency.

You may help save someone’s life someday.