Someone who’s had a cardiac arrest will suddenly collapse on the floor, stop breathing and have no pulse. And cardiac arrests do happen to children, not just grown-ups. So, in its recently released guidelines, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) is encouraging all parents to learn how to do cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
In the U.S., “cardiac arrest kills more than 7,000 children outside the hospital setting every year,” according to the AAP. A cardiac arrest happens when the heart malfunctions and cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs, and other organs. Death can occur within minutes if the victim does not receive treatment, says the American Heart Association (AHA). On the other hand, most victims will recover when prompt help is given.
“There are precious few minutes to waste when someone suffers a cardiac arrest, and it’s especially tragic when children are affected,” said Dr. Susan M. Fuchs, the lead author of the technical report, in a press release. “We know that by empowering people with information and the right equipment, that bystanders are more likely to take quick action.”
The AAP advocates for life support training for parents and caregivers, which includes knowledge in CPR and the use of an automated external defibrillator. “This training could occur in hospitals, physician offices, other health care facilities, schools, as well as be offered by professional and community groups.”
Life-saving skills should be taught from a young age as well and the AAP also recommends life support training for children. “Younger students can learn to recognize an emergency and call for help. Older students — especially those in high school — can learn CPR,” said Dr. Fuchs.
As per the report, “Basic life support training, including the performance of CPR should be in the skills toolkit for children, with the additional skill of the use of an AED for adolescents, parents, caregivers, school personnel, and the general public.”