Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

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Diane Forrest, RN

In nursing school, one of the first things we learned was how to perform CPR, and we became certified. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is the most basic form of life saving techniques.  While it only takes a few minutes to learn how to perform it accurately, the benefits are immeasurable.

I have a friend who owns a bowling center.  He has had some heart problems, and some of the people who bowl in weekly leagues are older and have also suffered from heart conditions.  I recently asked him if he knew how to perform CPR.  He stated that he has never had a class.  I asked if his sons, who work with him, or other co-workers were certified in the life saving technique, but he said they weren't certified either.  I called the local chapter for the Red Cross where he lives, and they will come to his business and teach a class instructing all who attend.

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CPR alone is unlikely to restart the heart; its main purpose is to restore partial flow of oxygenated blood to the brain and heart. The objective is to delay tissue death and to extend the brief window of opportunity for a successful resuscitation without permanent brain damage.  This action may not only prevent brain damage due to lack of oxygen, but it also allows the heart to better receive shock treatment once medical professionals arrive.

If you happen to come across a person who is unconscious, the first thing you do is shake them, ask “are you ok?" If there is no response, you either yell out for help, or call 911.

Then you check for a pulse. To do this, you place two fingers on the midline of their neck.  Then move your fingers to the side to locate a pulse.

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If you do not feel a pulse, begin chest compressions.

To begin chest compressions you take your finger, and locate the ribcage.  You follow the ribcage up to the center of the chest.

When you reach the center. You will be at the xiphoid process.  A small flat bone that is very fragile.

Place 2 fingers over the xiphoid process, and leave them there until you place the palm of your second hand beside your fingers.  This will allow you to locate the proper location to place your hand, and prevent breaking the xiphoid process.

Once you place the palm of your hand on the chest, raise your fingers up, and then place the other hand (the one with the fingers covering the xiphoid process) on top of the hand on the chest, interlocking your fingers.

Position yourself so that your shoulders are directly over the center of the victim's chest.
Begin compressions, pushing down 11/2 to 2 inches.

Begin counting to 30 like this:  One, and Two and three and etc.  This should be done so that the rate will equal to 100 beats per minute.

Following the cycle of 30 compressions, take two breaths and blow into the victims’ mouth.

Tilt the head back and lift the chin. Pinch nose and cover the mouth with yours and blow until you see the chest rise. Give 2 breaths. Each breath should take 1 second.

Repeat chest compressions.

After 5 cycles, check again for a pulse, then resume with breaths, then compressions.

To watch CPR in action, click on this site:  http://depts.washington.edu/learncpr/quickcpr.html

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While video is very useful, nothing takes the place of actually performing CPR in front of a Certified Instructor.  Make time to visit your local Red Cross or check with your community hospital for classes.  Learning CPR can help you save a life.

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