Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a life-saving technique used in critical situations where an individual has ceased breathing or their heart has stopped functioning, intending to save their life. This blog delves into CPR fundamentals to give you a comprehensive grasp of its importance and critical role in saving lives during medical emergencies.
Role of CPR in First Aid:
CPR is central to first aid for several reasons:
Immediate Intervention: In many life-threatening situations, such as drowning, heart attacks, or choking, performing CPR can be the direct intervention needed to sustain life until advanced medical care can be provided.
Complementing Other First Aid Techniques: CPR is often used with other first aid techniques. For instance, it can be applied while waiting for defibrillation to treat irregular cardiac rhythms, and it complements interventions like the Heimlich manoeuvre for choking victims.
Understanding the Importance of CPR:
CPR is an essential life-saving technique at the core of first aid training for multiple reasons:
Immediate Response: CPR is often the first and most critical step in the chain of survival during cardiac arrest. The direct application of CPR can aid in preserving essential blood flow and oxygen supply to the brain and other critical organs until expert medical assistance is available.
Increased Survival Rates: Data indicates that CPR by onlookers can substantially enhance the likelihood of survival for an individual undergoing cardiac arrest. Survival rates can be improved even further by combining CPR with the use of an automated external defibrillator, which is why any individual should have basic defibrillator training.
Minimising Brain Damage: CPR helps maintain a steady flow of oxygen to the brain, reducing the risk of brain damage resulting from insufficient oxygen during cardiac arrest.
Who Can Perform CPR?
Although trained and certified individuals are better equipped to administer CPR, anyone can attempt chest compressions in an emergency, for example:
Bystanders: Anyone who witnesses a cardiac arrest or a person in respiratory distress can and should initiate CPR if they are trained and confident in their abilities. It’s important to remember that hands-on CPR (chest compressions without rescue breaths) can be an effective and less intimidating option for untrained bystanders.
Family Members and Friends: Knowing CPR can be especially valuable within a family or social circle. Immediate action from loved ones can significantly improve the chances of survival.
Healthcare Professionals: Medical personnel, such as doctors, nurses, paramedics, and first responders, are trained in advanced CPR techniques and are often the first to administer CPR in a clinical setting.
Common CPR Techniques:
Standard CPR techniques involve a combination of chest compressions and rescue breaths (also known as artificial ventilation). The specific technique varies slightly depending on whether you perform CPR on adults, children, or infants. Here are the standard CPR techniques for each group:
- Check for Responsiveness: First, check if the adult is responsive by tapping their shoulder and loudly asking, “Are you okay?” If they do not respond and are not breathing normally, proceed with CPR.
- Call for Help: Call emergency services on 999 or 112 or instruct someone else to do so before you start to administer CPR.
- Begin Chest Compression: Perform chest compressions by placing the heel of one hand at the centre of the victim’s chest, below the nipple line, and putting the other hand on top. Keep your elbows straight and your shoulders directly above your hands. Use your upper body weight to compress the chest at least 2 inches deep and at 100-120 compressions per minute. Allow the chest to recoil fully between contractions.
- Rescue Breaths (Optional): After 30 compressions, give two rescue breaths by tilting the victim’s head back slightly to open the airway, pinching their nose closed, and giving a breath that makes the chest rise. Continue with cycles of 30 compressions and two breaths until help arrives or the victim shows signs of life.
- Check for Responsiveness: Follow the same steps as for adults.
- Call for Help: Call 999 or 112 for emergency services immediately.
- Chest Compressions: Place the heel of one hand on the centre of the child’s chest (usually just below the nipple line) and place your other hand on top. Compress the chest at least 2 inches deep but at most 2.4 inches. Compress at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute.
- Rescue Breaths (Optional): After 30 compressions, give two rescue breaths, similar to adult CPR. Continue with cycles of 30 compressions and two breaths.
- Check for Responsiveness: Gently tap the infant’s foot and shout their name. If there is no response and the infant is not breathing normally, proceed with CPR.
- Call for Help: Call 999 or 112 emergency services immediately.
- Chest Compressions: For infants, use two fingers (usually your index and middle fingers) to compress the chest below the nipple line. Compress the chest about 1.5 inches deep at 100-120 compressions per minute.
- Rescue Breaths (Optional): After 30 compressions, give two gentle rescue breaths, covering the infant’s nose and mouth with your mouth. Watch for chest rise. Continue with cycles of 30 compressions and two breaths.
CPR Certification Programmes
Essential First Aid: Online first aid courses often cover CPR techniques and the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs) to maximise survival rates.
Heart Saving CPR/AED Certification: These programmes are tailored for laypersons, including teachers, coaches, and community members. They cover adult, child, and infant CPR and AED use.
Online CPR Courses: Some organisations offer online CPR courses, allowing individuals to learn at their own pace. However, hands-on practice and assessment are usually required for certification.
Renewal and Recertification: CPR certifications typically expire after a set period (e.g., two years). Recertification courses are available to refresh skills and ensure that individuals stay up-to-date with the latest guidelines.
Instructor-led Training: Many CPR certification programmes are conducted by certified instructors who provide hands-on practise, demonstrations, and real-time feedback to ensure participants are proficient in CPR techniques.
Proficiency in cardiopulmonary resuscitation techniques is an invaluable life skill. CPR can mean the difference between life and death in cardiac arrest or respiratory failure emergencies. Whether for adults, children, or infants, the core components of CPR involve chest compressions and rescue breaths tailored to the specific age group.
Proper training and certification are essential to ensure competence and confidence in responding to these critical situations. Regular practise and staying up-to-date with CPR guidelines are crucial in maintaining these life-saving skills. Ultimately, CPR empowers individuals to take immediate action and significantly improves the chances of survival and recovery for those in need.