November 19, 2010

Know CPR, save a life

Devin Clarkson never imagined he'd use his newly acquired CPR skills two weeks after he attended the course. Nor did he think he'd use them on his Dad.

That's exactly what happened. When his parents returned from the gym, his Dad complained his shoulder and chest area were hurting and that he had overdone it.

Further Reading
Dispelling CPR Myths and Fears
How can I get trained?
Changes to CPR and the health care provider
About that AED
CPR facts
Why does a person's heart stop beating?
Win a CPR home kit
Latest CPR guidelines

"About five minutes later he was in the living room. Me and my mom heard a thump. He was laying on the ground turning purple," says Devin, as he recalls that unforgettable day.

They called 9-1-1 and told the dispatcher he was having a heart attack. While they waited for the ambulance to arrive, Devin started chest compressions on his Dad. He did that for about five minutes. When the paramedics arrived, they resumed chest compressions and defibrillated Devin's Dad.

He was revived, transported to the hospital and is currently in cardiac rehabilitation with the Reh Fit Clinic.

"It came naturally as more of a reaction than something to stop and think about, having taken the course just two weeks prior," says Devin of CPR. Devin initially signed up for the course in late July so he could apply for a job with DASCH Inc. "I didn't have to stop and think maybe I should do this. I just kind of did it. Not really taking much time to think when your Dad's having a heart attack is probably a good thing."

Stories like this are more common than you'd think. You never know when your friend, your Mom, your son or your co-worker may need you to perform CPR.

That's one reason the guidelines for CPR were recently changed - to make it easier and encourage more people to do it.

The new CPR guidelines focus on quality chest compressions.  "If you don't want to do breathing, that's fine. Something's better than nothing. Get chest compressions in and start circulating blood," says Diana Bayles, Resuscitation/AED Program Manager with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba.

It's also why, if you were trained several years ago, it might be time for a refresher. When you're in the middle of an emergency and someone you love's life is on the line, do you really want to be struggling to remember what to do?

If you're one of those people who thinks it can't happen to you, think again. Your hubby may know CPR but if they're the one who needs it, what then? Don't you want the confidence and peace of mind that comes from knowing you'll know what to do if something happens and you need to intervene?

That's why 67,000 people in Manitoba chose to get CPR training in 2009. Numbers have remained steady over the past several years, which is in large part due to the hard work the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba does to educate people about the importance of CPR. You just never know when you'll need the skills possible to save a life.

The people we love should be one of our reasons to get trained in CPR, says Bayles. "We should be doing this because we want to save someone we love."

Fear may be one reason people aren't getting trained. "People are afraid they're going to catch something or hurt someone," says Bayles. "You're not going to hurt them. You can't hurt a dead person."

Most people - thanks to medical shows on TV, a workshop taken years ago or something brought up in conversation - have an inkling that CPR is Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. When a person's heart isn't beating regularly, a series of chest compressions and breathing can help revive a person.

If you're not up with the latest CPR guidelines, you're not alone. A recent survey in Manitoba revealed only seven per cent of our working population was trained last year. They could have been trained in years past. But if you took classes two, five or even 10 years ago, CPR has changed.

This simple skill - put your hands in the centre of a person's chest and push up and down - can help a person and save their life. If someone does collapse in front of you, be confident that you'd know how to respond.

For Devin, it did make the difference between life and death. And it hit close to home. "I never thought it could happen to you but it can," says Devin. "I'm glad that I took CPR, definitely."

Dispelling CPR Myths and Fears

Myth A stranger on a street corner will require CPR.
Truth It's more likely to be someone you love who requires you to perform CPR on them.
Myth I'll put myself at risk and get an infectious disease.
Truth You won't. There has yet to be a case of someone contracting a disease from giving mouth to mouth resuscitation. But something like a t-shirt - that offers a barrier between mouths while letting the air get through - can help increase your confidence while doing the breathing.
Myth I'll do it wrong.
Truth The person's heart isn't beating regularly. It doesn't get much more grim than that. Your help could make the difference between life and death.
Myth I'll get sued if I do CPR or use an AED on someone.
Truth The Good Samaritan Protection Act protects you if you try to do CPR or use an AED on someone.
Myth I'll break a person's rib.
Truth You may. Ribs break and they can be healed. If a person's brain dies because oxygen and blood isn't circulating in their body, a broken rib is the least of their problems.

How can I get trained?

There are three main ways you can take CPR training:

  1. At home training kits. In the comfort of your home using a DVD, you and your family can learn CPR skills in 22 minutes. It also allows for frequent refreshers at your convenience.

  2. Through courses or training.

  3. Through your workplace (some employers offer or arrange for CPR training).

Changes to CPR and the health care provider

As a health care provider, you're used to performing CPR in a team setting with the help of your colleagues. The new CPR updates take this into account.

"We used to teach health care providers how to do compressions, how to do breathing, how to do skills one at a time. Now we're taking into account there's usually three or four or five of you so here's what you're going to do as a group until the code blue team takes over the advanced care," says Bayles.

The previous guidelines had a linier algorithm detailing a series of actions for team members to take. The updated guidelines have done away with the algorithm; all actions take place simultaneously.

It's anticipated that by training health care providers to perform CPR in their own setting and learn mastery of the skills and how to put those into practice, the result will be far better survival outcomes.

And a gentle reminder . . . the general public believes when they walk into a health care facility that everyone is trained in CPR and that everyone has the most recent training. This may or may not be the case. If we're encouraging the public to take CPR, we need to ensure health care professionals are also being encouraged to do so.

And as a health care professional, talk about CPR and encourage those in your community to get trained. "Encourage and advocate for everyone to learn those skills," says Bayles.

About that AED

Chances are you've seen an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) hanging on a wall in your travels. Along with increasing a person's chance of surviving cardiac arrest, you may be surprised to hear how easy they are to use. Upon flipping the lid or turning on the machine, a series of verbal cues - the first one often being stay calm - will walk a person through how to use the AED.

In fact, to prove how easy they are to use, an AED was brought to a fourth grade classroom. Within minutes, the kids had the AED on, connected and ready to shock.

"If a fourth grader can figure it out, we know adults can figure it out," says Bayles. "You cannot mess them up. They are safe and can save a life."

CPR facts

  • CPR is commonly used when a person's heart stops beating effectively. When that happens, they are often found on the ground or they drop to the ground. They are unresponsive.

  • A person can be having a heart attack yet still be alert and conscious. A heart attack is different from cardiac arrest (when a person's heart doesn't beat effectively).

  • Cardiac arrest does not discriminate when it comes to age, gender or race. Young children can go into cardiac arrest at a hockey game and people with no previous risk factors can be heart attack victims.

  • CPR is most effective when used in conjunction with an AED.

  • A person's survival rate with CPR being administered in four to six minutes is five percent. If an AED is used in conjunction with CPR in the first 3 minutes, the survival rate can be as high as 70% or greater.

  • Eighty-five per cent of cardiac arrests happen outside of the hospital.

  • The majority of the time, cardiac arrest is witnessed by someone who knows the person.

Why does a person's heart stop beating?

There are a number of reasons a person's heart may stop beating effectively or regularly.

A person's heart may stop effectively beating because they are choking and can't get the object out fast enough, they can't breathe (and lack oxygen), they can go into cardiac arrest.

People with a heart defect or arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat, common in young victims), people who are victims of accidents, stroke victims, someone drowning . . . there are a number of reasons a person's heart stops beating.

Enter today!

We want you to have a chance to learn CPR with the use of a home kit. Email your name, phone number and two reasons you need to know CPR to: with "CPR" in the subject line.

Your name will be entered into a draw to win a gift bag that includes a Heart & Stroke CPR Anytime™ Family & Friends™ kit provided courtesy of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Manitoba.

Your entry must be received by: December 14th, 2010 to be eligible for the draw.

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