Have you ever taken one of those CPR courses? Remember the dummy’s name? Resusci Annie. What a dummy.
We learned, on this plastic mannequin, how to push in the chest and do mouth-to-mouth. But what many don’t know was that basic CPR changed in the past year or so. It actually got easier.
CPR, when done immediately after a person “drops,” saves lives. Undoubtedly. Many don’t do it because they’re afraid they’ll do it wrong. I have a strong opinion on this – wrongly done CPR is much, much better than no CPR at all.
My hope is that by reading this column you’ll have a bit more confidence to jump in and safe a life.
First step is the same. Call for help. Call 911. Shout for help. If you have your cellphone, keep it on. Some have GPS, which will help paramedics find you.
Next, if you’re near an AED (automatic external defibrillator), grab it. They’re all around these days. Look and ye shall find. These little devices are easy to use. You can’t go wrong. I repeat, you cannot do it wrong because it’s automatic. It does all the work (it just can’t attach the electrodes and turn itself on).
Here’s the sequence:
1. Open the AED box. Take out the AED.
2. Push the start button – always clearly labeled.
3. Listen to the instructions, which will say apply the pads. One is labeled back (put it on the back) and the other front (put it on the chest over the heart).
4. Push the next button that says, essentially, “go” and stand to the side. It does the rest. This is much easier than recording a TV program on TiVo, which I still can’t figure out.
Now on to CPR.
It used to be A,B,C (airway, breathing, compressions). But that’s been changed to compressions first, then airway and breathing. Why? Because many are not comfortable with mouth-to-mouth. Let’s face it, it’s yucky. The result a lot of the time is non-action. People just stand there dumbstruck.
So … if you’re not trained in mouth-to-mouth, or don’t want to do it, just go to compressions. The trick here is how much to push in the chest. It’s 2 inches – that’s a hefty push but you’ll have your adrenaline running so you can do it – and the beat is about 100 compressions per minute.
How do you know you’re at that beat? The American Heart Association recommends humming “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees. But recent research shows that when most hum this they only are at the magic 100 about 62 percent of the time. So researchers looked at “Achy Breaky Heart” and “Disco Science.”
“Disco Science” won hands down, with an 82 percent successful beat rate with “Achy Breaky Heart” tying with “Staying Alive” at 62 percent. As you can see, many still fall below the mark.
I suggest that you convince yourself today that compressions count and you can do it. Don’t be afraid.
Dr. Zorba Paster is a family physician, university professor, author and broadcast journalist. He also hosts a popular radio call-in program at 3 p.m. Saturdays on WBFO-FM 88.7.