Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR): First aid
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a lifesaving technique useful in many emergencies, including heart attack or near drowning, in which someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped.
Ideally, CPR involves two elements: chest compressions combined with mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing. (A complete description of how to do both follows farther down in this article.)
However, what you as a bystander actually should do in an emergency situation really depends on your knowledge and comfort level.
The bottom line is that it's far better to do something than to do nothing at all if you're fearful that your knowledge or abilities aren't 100 percent complete. Remember, the difference between your doing something and doing nothing could be someone's life.
Here's the latest advice from the American Heart Association:
Untrained. If you're not trained in CPR, then provide hands-only CPR. That means uninterrupted chest presses of about two per second until paramedics arrive (described in more detail below). You don't need to try rescue breathing.
Trained, and ready to go. If you're well trained, and confident in your ability, then you can opt for one of two approaches: 1. Alternate between 30 seconds of chest compressions and two rescue breaths, or 2. Just do chest compressions. (Details described below.)
Trained, but rusty. If you've previously received CPR training, but you're not confident in your abilities, then it's fine to do just chest compressions.
The above advice applies only to adults needing CPR, not to children.
CPR can keep oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs until more definitive medical treatment can restore a normal heart rhythm.
When the heart stops, the absence of oxygenated blood can cause irreparable brain damage in only a few minutes. Death will occur within eight to 10 minutes. Time is critical when you're helping an unconscious person who isn't breathing.
To learn CPR properly, take an accredited first-aid training course, including CPR and how to use an automatic external defibrillator (AED).
Assess the situation before starting CPR:
Is the person conscious or unconscious?
If the person appears unconscious, tap or shake his or her shoulder and ask loudly, 'Are you OK?'
If the person doesn't respond and two people are available, one should call 911 or the local emergency number and one should begin CPR. If you are alone and have immediate access to a telephone, call 911 before beginning CPR — unless you think the person has become unresponsive because of suffocation (such as from drowning). In this special case, begin CPR for one minute and then call 911.
If an AED is immediately available, deliver one shock if advised by the device, then begin CPR.
Think ABC — Airway, Breathing and Circulation — to remember the steps explained below. Move quickly through Airway and Breathing to begin chest compressions to restore circulation.
AIRWAY: Clear the airway
Breathe for the person
Rescue breathing can be mouth-to-mouth breathing or mouth-to-nose breathing if the mouth is seriously injured or can't be opened.
CIRCULATION: Restore blood circulation with chest compressions
perform CPR on a child
The procedure for giving CPR to a child age 1 through 8 is essentially the same as that for an adult. The differences are as follows:
If you're alone, perform five cycles of compressions and breaths on the child — this should take about two minutes — before calling 911 or your local emergency number or using an AED.
Use only one hand to perform heart compressions.
Breathe more gently.
Use the same compression-breath rate as is used for adults: 30 compressions followed by two breaths. This is one cycle. Following the two breaths, immediately begin the next cycle of compressions and breaths.
After five cycles (about two minutes) of CPR, if there is no response and an AED is available, apply it and follow the prompts. Use pediatric pads if available. If pediatric pads aren't available, use adult pads.
Continue until the child moves or help arrives.
perform CPR on a baby
Most cardiac arrests in infants occur from lack of oxygen, such as from drowning or choking. If you know the infant has an airway obstruction, perform first aid for choking. If you don't know why the infant isn't breathing, perform CPR.
To begin, assess the situation. Stroke the baby and watch for a response, such as movement, but don't shake the child.
If there's no response, follow the ABC procedures below and time the call for help as follows:
If you're the only rescuer and CPR is needed, do CPR for two minutes — about five cycles — before calling 911 or your local emergency number.
If another person is available, have that person call for help immediately while you attend to the baby.
AIRWAY: Clear the airway
If the infant isn't breathing, begin mouth-to-mouth breathing immediately.
BREATHING: Breathe for the infant
CIRCULATION: Restore blood circulation
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