Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, also known as CPR. We’ve all heard of it. Some of may know how to do it, or at least have a vague idea of how it works. But how many of us keep our certification up and feel confident in knowing what to do? How many of us have never learned, thinking we’d never be in a position to do it? Learning CPR doesn’t take much. The American Red Cross offers classes all over the place for a low cost. I know of volunteer fire departments that offer it monthly. Your certification lasts two years, and the recertification class is shorter than the initial course. I have been certified in CPR since I was 14, and I have been an EMT-Basic since I was 16. Even I have never had to do CPR, but I don’t doubt for a second that this simple set of skills can save a life and the importance of being prepared to do CPR and keeping up with your certification.
The American Red Cross has suggestions for those who are untrained, trained and ready to go, and trained but rusty on performing CPR. I would suggest taking the full class. A few hours of your afternoon could add years to someone’s life. It literally can be the difference between life and death. CPR can keep oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and other organs when the heart stops, when a lack of blood flow can cause brain damage and death within minutes. Today, there are apps like PulsePoint that notifies you, who has indicated they are trained in CPR and willing to assist in an emergency, when someone in your vicinity needs CPR and also identifies the nearest AED. It aims to increase response and medical intervention before first responders arrive on scene; those minutes can be vital to the victim’s chance of recovery. The app is also free.
Why am I telling people to learn CPR? Because one year and a day ago, a good family friend of mine suffered a heart attack. He is alive and healthy today because of CPR – performed by his sons, no less. Everything worked the way it was supposed to. He is the president of my fire department, and on this particular Monday he was setting up for a meeting at the fire station when he began not to feel well. He went to another part of the station, where my younger brother was, and asked him to call 911 because he thought he was having a heart attack. Then he called his oldest son and told him the same. After my brother called 911, he grabbed our medical “first in” bag and AED to prepare for EMS to arrive. The older son called his brother, and luckily the two live only about five minutes away. I’m not sure how soon he collapsed after this versus when his sons and EMS arrived, but his sons were there to begin performing CPR. His heart stopped, and he was shocked four times via the AED. By the time they left in the ambulance, he was awake. He was transported to the hospital where he had stents inserted.
His recovery has been miraculous. He was out of the hospital by Thursday or Friday. The doctors told him how lucky he was. And today, in some ways, it’s like nothing but a memory but in other ways, sometimes I still can’t believe it all actually happened. Without a doubt, the quick application of CPR saved his life. Everything worked the way it was supposed to. It is honestly amazing, and only God knows why everything worked out. I’m definitely not going to question the end result. His sons are first responders, but this could have easily happened to anyone at home who has kids that learned to do CPR at school. On the flip side, in this case, he could have easily been at the fire station alone and we could have had an entirely different outcome. Just a couple years prior, we lost a member who lived alone and had a heart attack at home. He was only in his forties.
I remember how sick and helpless I felt after I texted my brother to ask what was going on up at the station (I have an app that notifies me when we get a call, and for a medical call of this severity, we get dispatched) and received just the name and knew what the possibilities were. CPR isn’t always successful, but I sure as hell would want to be able to do whatever I could to help someone who needed it rather than be on the side, helpless. It’s like I said before. When it works, it is the difference between someone’s life and death. The amount of compressions and breaths may have changed over the years, but the general concept of CPR has not. It’s a skill set that will last you a lifetime. According to the American Heart Association, you are most likely to perform CPR on someone you know; someone you love. Please, go learn CPR.
Here are some facts about CPR (Thanks, American Heart Association):
- Almost 90% of individuals who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest will die. If CPR is performed, especially within the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest, the rate of survival can double or triple.
- 70% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests happen at home.
- Only approximately 46% of people who have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest receive immediate help before EMS arrives.
- Chest compressions should occur at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute; the beat of “Stayin’ Alive” is perfect for this.
CPR works. I have a friend still here because of it. Learn CPR.