AHA commissioned a survey that researched why people fear providing CPR to a victim of sudden cardiac arrest outside the hospital (SCAOH). The survey found that 61% of the people would not provide CPR for fear of worsening the situation. On the other hand, 31% percent of the people fear they may be held accountable for the death of a victim if they provide CPR and the victim shows no signs of life.
However, in 2018, school staff saved a teenager’s life in Wesley Chapel who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest during gym class by providing first aid immediately. Had it not been for their help, the 16-year-old would have died that day. This story breaks all misconceptions about cardiac arrest – popularly believed that only seniors or people with comorbidities are targets for SCAOH. It is high time to sit down and get CPR demystified, clearing the confusion and building confidence.
What is CPR
CPR is short for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and is considered a life-saving technique used in case of an emergency when the heart stops beating. The technique itself mimics heart pumps as the bystander keeps compressing the chest and provides rescue breaths when needed so that the victim does not remain without oxygen in the system. Technically, the bystander does the heart duty for the victim.
Providing help within the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest increases the survival chances by 2-3 times more than waiting for the emergency team to intervene on the scene. This is because the brain cannot remain without oxygen for more than 4 minutes resulting in partial or permanent impairment. Death will occur after 6 minutes without oxygen.
On the other hand, the expected EMS response time is around 5 minutes, but this may be too late for the victim. Reacting and providing CPR immediately can literally save a life.
CPR Myths and Facts
Since there are many misconceptions about CPR, it is high time to demystify the technique and stick to the facts. Below we picked the most confusing CPR myths that discourage many people.
CPR Can Only be Performed by Adults
This is one of the most popular beliefs about CPR that is not true. CPR is a life-saving technique that both children and adults perform. AHA believes that children as little as 9 years can learn CPR correctly, and a PubMed report supported AHA’s belief. A study finds satisfactory results about the children’s performance and concludes their ability to provide CPR on a victim. The only obstacle may be the child’s physical strength, but knowing CPR at this age can only be an advantage.
CPR is Reserved Only for Medical Staff
Another discouraging myth because CPR is a technique everyone can learn and use. Any person with CPR certification can get skilled in CPR and use AED when needed. Also, for some states, CPR is a collective responsibility.
The OSHA regulations provide guidelines for employers to comply with hazard-specific and health safety standards, including getting a CPR certification. Each state includes CPR in the school curriculums, and students cannot graduate without passing the CPR examination. The aim is to create entire generations skilled in CPR, hoping to decrease the mortality rates due to cardiac arrests.
I Might End Up in Prison
A bystander cannot end up in prison if they follow the chain of survival, regardless of the outcome. The government put in place the Good Samaritan Law to protect the rights of bystanders helping a victim suffering SCAOH in case of fatal results.
However, the bystander has to abide by the conditions of the Good Samaritan Law to be entitled to it. For example, they have to be fully aware of the situation, assess the victim’s condition, act in good faith, and make rational decisions corresponding to the chain of survival.
CPP Can Be Used on Adults-Only
This is one of the most dangerous myths that could result in the loss of a child. CPR is a universal technique that mimics heart pumping and delivering oxygen to the brain and the body – no matter what age. The victim receives the amount of oxygen through the rescue breaths from the bystander.
Although it’s very unlikely for a child to experience SCAOH, it is not impossible. Children are prone to choking as they play with tiny toys or objects, and it does not take too long before an accident occurs. In such cases, a parent or bystander should immediately perform CPR on the child.
Using AED Requires Knowledge of Medical Devices
As CPR is not always enough to revive a victim, so in most cases, you may need a bigger heart stimulant than chest compressions. This is when an AED is needed – another potentially discouraging device. Many people believe that they need to be formally educated in electronics and medicine to use the AED or the Automatic Electronic Defibrillator so they can evaluate a heart condition.
Modern AED devices are simplified to the point where they do the whole job for you. Putting the AED pads on a person will assess the situation and heart rhythm based on the information it gathers and provide precise instructions. If there is a need to deliver a shock, this medical device will instruct you how to do that.
I Passed CPR Years Ago, and I Don’t Need Further Lectures
Many CPR certification holders believe that learning CPR is a one-time thing. What they don’t realize is that although the concept of CPR remains the same, there might be updates in the techniques or the technology and electronic devices.
CPR recertification is required every one to two years, depending on the CPR training provider. You don’t have to get certified unless this is a job requirement for you, but getting recertified is advised. There is also the option of attending renewal classes to renew your CPR knowledge and learn about the latest CPR updates.
What Do CPR Classes Cover?
Based on the AHA CPR guidelines, all CPR classes teach CPR and AED techniques. The candidates will get familiar with the concept of CPR and AED, how to assess a situation, and demonstrate their skills in front of a certified instructor.
However, although the CPR technique is a universal life-rescuing technique, the approach to the victim can be different according to the state or age of the victim. Therefore, there are different CPR classes, as explained below:
- Adult CPR and AED Classes: These classes focus on performing the technique on adults. The candidates will learn the basics of CPR and how to use AED, including how to provide CPR on a pregnant woman.
- Pediatric CPR and AED Classes: These classes focus on giving CPR to a child or a baby and how to use AED on a child. Given the physique of their small bodies, the rescue technique requires a different approach. The candidates will learn how to recognize when a child needs CPR and how to respond effectively.
- Basic Life Support Classes: Candidates of this class learn advanced life-saving techniques that include CPR and AED, but also how to identify life-threatening scenarios such as choking and relieving a patient’s obstructed airway.
By completing the theoretical part, the candidates will demonstrate their skills on a mannequin under the mentorship of a licensed instructor. At the end of the classes, they will receive a CPR certification and be eligible to help victims of SCAOH.
CPR Demystified: Conclusion
CPR is often considered an advanced medical skill, not to mention the use of AED. However, CPR is a skill everyone can use, easy to comprehend, and highly relevant. The same is true for using an AED. AED devices nowadays are simple to use, providing instructions that you need to follow.
CPR can double or triple the survival chances. It can be a life-changing skill, as with the basketball player in Wesley Chapel high school.
Clearing the confusion and building confidence surrounding CPR will help many to encourage themselves to attend a CPR course and get certified.