How to Save a Life

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation can double or triple a person’s chance of living in the instance of cardiac arrest. Sadly, seventy percent of Americans may feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency because they either do not know how to administer CPR or their training has significantly lapsed. CPR is not something that is very hard to learn.  To be certified in CPR, it may require taking a longer class, but the simple steps of CPR can be learned by people and can help them increase someone’s chance of survival.  These steps include assessing the situation, administering rescue breaths, and executing chest compressions.

There are a few steps that must be followed before a person can even begin to administer CPR, the first being checking to make sure the scene is safe.  The administrator does not want to rush into a situation and become a victim themselves.  Situations that may be unsafe include hazardous material around the person or an area where the administrator is at risk of being injured. Once they have ensured that the scene is safe, they will then need to check the person.  This can simply be done by tapping the person on the shoulder and shouting at them asking if they are in need of assistance.  The administrator will want to do this because a person may just be dazed and does not need CPR at the moment.  The administrator does not want to hurt the victim further by administering CPR if it is not needed.

After ensuring the scene is safe and the person is actually unconscious and needs assistance, the administrator should call 911 for assistance.  This can vary depending on if people are around to help the administrator.  In the instance of no one being around, they should call 911 themselves and then begin administering assistance yourself.  If there are people around, the administrator should have someone else call 911 and then they begin administering assistance.  Also, they should send someone to get an automated external defibrillator if needed.

Then, the person’s airway will need to be opened.  This can be done by lying the victim on his/her back and then tilting his/her head back slightly and lifting the chin.

Once this has been done, check to see if the person is breathing.  Sounds do not necessarily mean breathing.  Rising and falling of the chest and feeling air come out of the mouth with the rising and falling of the chest are better signs to look for when checking for breathing.  If it is determined that the person is not breathing, the administrator should begin CPR.

Now come the actual steps of performing CPR.  The administrator will need to begin with chest compressions.  With both hands on top of one another, the lifesaver should push downwards on the chest just above the sternum.  When pushing, the administrator will need to push hard and fast, trying to get two inches deep in the chest.  They should use their whole body to help compress the chest helps achieve this two inch requirement.  A rate of one hundred compressions is desired; and to help get to this mark, the lifesaver can compress at the beat of the song “Staying Alive.”  It is best to do sets of twenty compressions for every two rescue breaths administered.

Rescue breathes entail tilting the head back slightly, lifting the chin, and pinching the nose.  After all this, the administrator will place his/her mouth over the mouth of the victim, creating a complete seal.  They will then blow a deep breath into the person’s mouth, causing the chest to rise.  Blowing quickly may damage the lungs, so the administrator should blow in a controlled but firm way.  After the two breaths are administered, they will then return to chest compressions.

Administrators should continue cycling through these steps until help arrives, an AED arrives, or the person shows signs of life.  If there are more people around, it is helpful to rotate between cycles to avoid from getting too fatigued.  It is also helpful to keep track of how many times the cycle of chest compressions and breaths are administered so as to report to Emergency Medical Services when and if they arrive.

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