A cardiac arrest is life threatening. A delay of just a few minutes in getting to the hospital, can cost a life! At such times, basic emergency procedures, like the CPR, can be of great help. CPR boosts the blood flow to the heart and brain and adds those few extra, but very precious minutes in which one can reach the hospital and get proper treatment.
CPR is no rocket science. It is in fact, as simple as C-A-B i.e. Compression/Circulation - Airway - Breathing.
It involves 3 basic steps that are described below.
Before you begin, check the following things:
- Is the person conscious or unconscious?
- If the person is unconscious, tap the shoulder gently and ask a simple question to see if he/she responds to it.
- If there are 2 or more people available, ensure that they call the emergency numbers while you proceed with the CPR. If you are alone, call the emergency number before you start CPR.
The 3 Steps of CPR:
Always remember C.A.B.- Compression/Circulation - Airway - Breathing
Compression/Circulation: Restore the blood circulation to the heart and brain with compressions.
- Put the person on his back on a firm surface.
- Kneel next to the person's neck and shoulders.
- Place the base of one hand over the center of the person's chest, between the nipples. Place your other hand on top of the first. Keep your elbows straight and position your shoulders directly above your hands.
- Use not just your arms, but your entire upper body weight, as you push down at least 2 inches, on the chest.. Push hard and at a rate of about 100 compressions per minute.
- If you haven't been trained in CPR, continue chest compressions until there are signs of movement or until the emergency medical personnel arrive and take over.
Airway- Clear the airway
- Once you've performed at least 30 chest compressions, get access to the person's airway using the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver- Put your palm on the person's forehead and gently tilt his head back. Then with the other hand, gently lift the chin forward to open the airway.
- Check for normal breathing, but take no more than five or 10 seconds for this. Look to see if the chest is heaving, listen for normal breathing sounds, and feel for the person's breath on your cheek. Remember, gasping is not normal breathing. If the person isn't breathing normally and you are trained in CPR, begin mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. If you think the person is unconscious from a heart attack and you haven't been trained in the emergency procedures, skip the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and continue with the chest compressions.
Breathing: Breathe for the person. Rescue breathing can be mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-nose, in case of serious injuries where the mouth cannot be opened.
- With the airway open, using the above mentioned head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver, pinch the nostrils shut for mouth-to-mouth breathing and cover the person's mouth with yours, making a seal.
- Prepare to give two rescue breaths. Give the first rescue breath, lasting one second, -and watch to see if the chest rises. If it does rise, give the second breath. If the chest doesn't rise, repeat the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver and then give the second breath. Thirty chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths, is considered one cycle.
- Resume the chest compressions to restore circulation.
- Continue CPR until there are signs of movement or until the emergency medical personnel arrive and take over.
In case of children, the procedure for CPR is essentially same. The only exception is that you have to use one hand while compressing instead of two. Also in case of children, remember to breathe more gently.
CPR is life saving. It is essential that even if one is an untrained bystander, one takes the initiative and at least starts with the compressions, until medical help arrives.