Saving a life is easy as ABC
As we escape to the beaches, the bush, the baches this summer, a few of us won’t make it back alive. Drownings, heart attacks and choking on that meat you should have cut up a bit more will all take their toll on the summer tribe. The tragedy is that some lives could have been saved if people knew CPR. The biggest reason people don’t do CPR is that they are worried they may get it wrong. Well, you can’t get it more wrong than not doing it at all. One of the often-asked questions we ask in the Emergency Department when someone has been brought in post-cardiac arrest or a drowning is: What was the downtime? That’s the length of time between collapse and CPR being started. Our brains need oxygen and our hearts pump the blood that carries it. So, the aim of cardio (heart) pulmonary (lungs) resuscitation (CPR) is to get oxygen to the lungs and start the heart, either manually by chest compressions and/or jump starting it with electricity, a defibrillator. If your heart stops it’s either an electrical or a plumbing problem. The placement of defibrillators in the community has made a massive difference to people surviving cardiac arrest. Doing CPR will keep the blood going to the rest of your body until the defibrillator arrives. It can then hopefully be used to restart the heart to pump itself. For every minute you don’t get a defib on, you lose about 10 per cent survivability, so time is critical. It’s also critical to get CPR started
By doing a course and knowing CPR you will make a difference.
straight away to get the blood flowing.
St John Ambulance has a great CPR app you can download, but it’s a good idea to do a course – you may save someone’s life, and they may save yours. ABC stands for Airway, Breathing and CPR, 30 chest compressions for every two breaths. Make sure the airway (mouth and throat) are clear, check for breathing and then if no response or breathing commence the chest compressions and mouth to mouth, 30 compressions, two breaths. Aim for between 100 and 120 compressions per minute.
By doing a course and knowing CPR you will make a difference. Imagine being at a beach and not being able to save a drowning child because you had been too busy to do a course. What if someone you love didn’t make it because none of the people around them know CPR? Before having a heart attack, about 80 per cent of people have symptoms such as chest pain or shortness of breath.
Calling an ambulance is vital early on. I was at a conference in Wellington speaking once when someone collapsed on the stairs. I got to him within two minutes and began CPR. The defib, which is automatic (you place the pads on and it tells you what to do), at the venue arrived two minutes later. We delivered three shocks. The ambulance arrived 10 minutes later and the patient made a full recovery, thanks to the paramedics’ care.
Attending a cardiac arrest in the community as an ED doctor makes you feel naked – you are without your machines, other staff, crash trolleys and gadgets. However, the training kicks in and you stay calm because panicking never saved anyone, it makes it worse.
What if someone you love didn’t make it because none of the people around them knew CPR?