Reason #1: Most emergencies happen at home or at work!
The American Heart Association reports that 70% of Americans haven’t had a CPR class, and don’t know how what to do if a person is experiencing cardiac arrest or a cardiac emergency. Since almost 90% of cardiac arrests occur at home, where the person needs immediate Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, it makes it even more important to learn how to perform high quality CPR that can save the life of a loved one or family member.
If a person isn’t breathing and/or has no pulse, it’s important to provide high quality CPR (resuscitation) in order to deliver Oxygen (O2) to the brain. Learning how to provide high quality CPR and providing it quickly to a person who isn’t breathing, or does not have a pulse, can make all the difference in the world! Furthermore, learning the basics of First Aid is very important because most people encounter an emergency at home or at work, where you don’t have the resources available at a medical facility. Knowing what to do can make all the difference!
Reason #2: In order to perform High Quality CPR, you need to understand why CPR works!
So, let’s learn how CPR works and why it can provide lifesaving Oxygen (O2) to the brain. If a person has a normal healthy heart beat, each contraction of the heart produces what is called “stroke volume”, which leads to “Cardiac Output” which then leads to “Perfusion” of Oxygen (O2) to the brain. Stroke volume is the amount of blood per beat that is moved to the brain and throughout the body. Cardiac Output is simply the amount of blood per minute being delivered to the brain, and perfusion simply means the delivery a fluid, (in this case oxygenated blood) to saturate the brain with lifesaving Oxygen (O2). But if a person has no pulse, stroke volume drops to zero, cardiac output drops to zero, Oxygen perfusion in the brain starts to run out, and usually the person has about 4-5 minutes before brain damage occurs and is followed by death.
High quality CPR can double or triple an adult’s chance of survival. However, as I mentioned above, time is of the essence and you need to act quickly. At 4-5 minutes without oxygen, the patient will suffer from permanent brain damage. At 8-10 minutes in most cases, the person can die. Almost 90% of cardiac arrest patients die because no one performed CPR at the scene.
Reason #3: Taking a CPR/First Aid class will teach you how to take care of you before you take care of the person who is down!
First, you want to make sure the environment around you is safe and that there are no threats to your safety. If the person who is down has encountered electrocution, poison gas, or something else that may pose a threat to you, you will be unable to directly engage the person.
So, after you are sure the scene is safe, check if the patient can respond by tapping them on the shoulder and shouting “Are you okay?” If they don’t respond, activate the EMS by asking someone to call 911 and bring back an AED. If you’re alone and you have a cell phone, do it yourself and put the phone on “speaker”. But remember you need to check to see if the scene is safe. If you go down, they’re down, and nobody’s getting help, it’s twice as bad.
Reason #4: Taking a CPR/First Aid class trains you to perform High Quality CPR!
In the next step (assuming you have no formal medical training), look for breathing for 5 to 10 seconds. If they have no breathing, you need to locate the center of the chest and begin chest compressions. Compressions are the most important part of high quality CPR because they restore blood circulation. When rescuers deliver CPR to cardiac arrest victims, they essentially create an artificial heartbeat that creates “stroke volume”, which leads to “Cardiac Output” which then leads to “Perfusion” of Oxygen (O2) to the brain. The chest compressions manually squeeze or compress blood out of the heart and push it throughout the body, delivering some oxygen-rich blood to the victim’s brain and organs. But the organ that really counts is the brain, which is vulnerable to less Oxygen. Basically, the rescuer “becomes” the victim’s heartbeat and extends or “re-sets” the victims 4-5 minute clock.
You need to provide compressions that are deep enough and fast enough – for an adult, that’s a 2” compression followed by a 2” chest recoil. You also need to allow the chest to return or spring back to its normal position after every compression, (this allows the heart to refill after every compression) and make sure not to interrupt the compressions for more than 10 seconds. High quality CPR has two important components, 1) providing compressions and 2) giving breaths. But if you are a lay provider, (someone who has no formal medical training), then you can provide “hands only” CPR that does not include the breaths. If you choose to give breaths, it is best to use “Personal Protective Equipment” or what is called a CPR mask or Barrier Device that can protect you from viral or bacterial micro-organisms that you don’t want on or in you. It is good practice to prevent a disease pathway from the victim to you.