“What is CPR?” Understanding this life-saving technique is crucial. Each day, amidst routine thoughts, emergencies like cardiac arrest—where CPR proves vital—can occur unexpectedly. When the heart stops pumping, immediate action with CPR becomes pivotal to sustaining life by restoring blood flow to vital organs.
Each morning, our thoughts revolve around the day ahead—meetings, emails, and planning meals.
We usually don’t think about emergencies or doing CPR, even though they can happen at any time. This is why CPR training is so important to save lives.
Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping. If this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. Certain types of irregular heart rhythms (arrhythmias) prevent the heart from pumping blood, causing cardiac arrests. Cardiac arrest is a medical emergency and CPR is a critical part of a casualty’s chance of survival.
What is CPR?
CPR saves lives during emergencies like heart attacks or near drownings when someone stops breathing or their heart stops. Place one hand on top of the other, position them at the centre of the chest, and use your body weight to compress.
Why is CPR important?
Currently, about 9 out of 10 people who have a cardiac arrest outside the hospital die. But CPR can help improve the chances of survival. If performed in the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest, CPR can double or even triple a person’s chance of survival.
In any medical emergency, every passing second is important. Victims of cardiac arrest require immediate CPR to prevent damaging effects from lack of blood flow to organs. Once blood flow stops for 7 minutes, permanent brain damage occurs. Starting CPR within 6 minutes of a sudden cardiac arrest is crucial for its effectiveness.
When should I perform CPR?
If you know hands only CPR, follow these steps to help the person: – Go to the person and tap their shoulders to get their attention. – Tilt their head to open their airway. – Check for a pulse. – Check how they are breathing.
If someone has no pulse or is not breathing for 10 seconds, start CPR. Do 30 chest compressions in the middle of the chest, then give two rescue breaths using a mouthpiece or pocket mask. It’s important to maintain continuous chest compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 per minute for effective resuscitation.
Continue performing deep compressions and rescue breaths, making sure to get proper chest recoil after each compression. Continue doing compressions until either help arrives; your patient shows signs of life; or someone that knows CPR can take over from you.
The steps for CPR are the same for adults, children, and infants: 30 chest compressions followed by 2 rescue breaths. The only difference lies in how we do the compressions.
- Adult casualties – 2-hand compressions,
- Child casualties – 1 or 2-hand compressions according to the basic life support guidelines
- Infant – 2-finger compressions in the centre of the chest in between the nipple line.
What are the benefits of learning to do CPR?
- You learn how to save a life.
- You will know how to identify and respond to the early signs of cardiac arrest.
- You would also get to know and understand how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).
- Be able to help someone in a drowning emergency.
- Assist during an accident.
- Save a life in a classroom or on the sports field or even at home.
The Science Behind CPR
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is not just a set of steps; it’s a lifesaving technique grounded in the understanding of how the body responds during a cardiac emergency.
Restoring Blood Circulation
During a cardiac arrest, the heart stops pumping blood effectively, leading to an immediate halt in oxygen delivery to vital organs, including the brain. CPR aims to restore blood circulation by manually compressing the chest. These compressions act as a substitute for the heart’s pumping action, maintaining a flow of oxygenated blood to the brain and other organs.
Oxygenation and Cellular Health
CPR combines chest compressions and rescue breaths to provide oxygen to the body. Chest compressions help circulate the remaining oxygenated blood, while rescue breaths supply additional oxygen to the lungs, enabling the exchange of gases necessary for cellular respiration.
Mitigating Brain Damage
The brain is particularly vulnerable during a cardiac arrest. Brain cells start to die within minutes of oxygen deprivation, leading to irreversible damage. By initiating CPR promptly, particularly within the critical first minutes, the procedure helps mitigate brain damage by sustaining minimal blood flow to the brain until more advanced medical interventions can be administered.
Importance of Proper Technique
The efficacy of CPR lies in its technique. Proper hand placement, adequate depth and rate of compressions, and effective ventilation through rescue breaths significantly impact its success. Effective compressions maintain blood circulation, preventing further deterioration of vital organs, while proper ventilation supplies the body with crucial oxygen.
Understanding the physiological underpinnings of CPR highlights its role in preserving life during emergencies. This life-saving procedure buys time, keeping vital organs functioning until advanced medical help arrives, emphasising the critical importance of CPR training and its potential impact on saving lives.
Where can I receive CPR training?
Absolute Health Services offers various courses where you can learn more about CPR and these important lifesaving skills.
We offer a 2-day First Aid course at NQF level 1. After completing this course, the first responder will be well-prepared to handle emergencies, including cardiac arrest.
We design and accredit two of our courses with the Resuscitation Council of South Africa. These are the CPR for Everyone course which specifically focuses on your CPR skills as well as AED use. If you work in healthcare and don’t regularly practice CPR, you have the option to take the CPR for Professionals course. This course will help you keep your CPR skills up to date.
We offer the BLS for Healthcare Providers course, following the guidelines of the American Heart Association for delivery. Attendees can earn CPD points and also enhance their knowledge and skills in basic life support, including CPR.
Please visit our website, Absolute Health Services, to learn about our courses. If you have any questions or need assistance with bookings, our sales consultant will be happy to help you.