Cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR is a life saving technique that everyone should learn. Find out how to give CPR.
Although most cardiopulmonary resuscitation or CPR should be performed by one or more people who are trained in this life saving technique, an untrained person can help. In many cases an untrained person who is fully aware of the steps taken during this technique can be the difference between life and death when there is no one certified in CPR available.
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is a technique for restoring the breathing and heartbeat of an unconscious heart attack, drowning, strangulation, suffocation, electrocution, drug over dose, carbon monoxide poisoning, or accident victim. It combines an external heart massage and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. When a victim needs CPR a delay of even 5 minutes can be fatal so speed and persistence are essential. Any untrained person can perform the mouth-to-mouth breathing part of this technique but ideally only a person trained in CPR should administer the heart massage. To begin this technique you will need two people to work on the victim and a third person that can summon medical help. The three basic steps of CPR are known as the ABC's of this technique. The A stands for airways which need to be cleared immediately. B is for breathe for the victim and C means to restore circulation by using heart massage.
To clear a victim’s airway you should place the patient on a firm, hard surface such as a floor or table. Do not use a bed or sofa since they will not support the victim in the manner needed for applying CPR. The victim's head should be tilted with one hand pressing on the forehead while that other hand is lifting the chin. First place your ear near the victim’s mouth to see and feel for breathing. Watch the chest while doing this to see if it is rising and falling. If the victim has dentures or plates that are loose you should remove them. If any other objects are blocking the victim’s throat or mouth, gently remove the blockage with your finger. In case the blockage cannot be discovered in the mouth, turn the victim on their side supporting them with your thighs and deliver four firm blows between the shoulder blades to dislodge the blockage.
When you discover that the victim is not breathing you should immediately begin mouth-to-mouth breathing for them. If the victim is an infant or small child, try to cover the mouth and nose with your mouth. Otherwise, you should gently pinch the victim’s nose with your thumb and index finger to close the air passage while covering their mouth with yours. One hand should be placed under the victim’s neck and the heel of the other hand on the victim’s forehead pressing downward. Tilt the victim’s chin so that the teeth are almost together. Close the nostrils and take a deep breath before covering the victim’s mouth with yours. Be sure you make a tight seal so that no air is allowed to escape and blow four big, quick breaths in quick succession into the victim’s mouth. Lift your mouth from the victim’s and pause just long enough to inhale deeply before your resume the breaths. If you are working on an adult, you should be applying one breath every five seconds. With a child one breath every three seconds. Continue until the victim’s lungs have expanded and the chest rises. In a case where this does not occur, readjust the tilt of the head to be sure the air passage is open.
If for any reason you cannot get a firm seal around the victim’s mouth, mouth-to-nose resuscitation may be necessary. Follow the same technique you used for applying mouth-to-mouth but breath instead into the nose. If you still can't get the chest to expand, check for obstructions and dislodge them. Then continue with the mouth-to-mouth technique. When you see the victim’s chest expand, remove your mouth so that the victim can exhale, then continue mouth-to-mouth until the victim is breathing on his own.
To begin heart massage, first take the victim's pulse by placing two fingers where the bone in the throat begins and moving them slightly out and diagonal until you can feel the pulse. If you are taking the pulse on a child you will need to feel on the underside of the arm near the armpit. If you can find no pulse, you must use mouth -to-mouth breathing in conjunction with the heart massage. In this case, when at all possible, a second person should be involved. While one person is giving the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, place one palm on the lower breast bone and the other hand on top of the first hand at right angles. Keeping both arms rigid, thrust down 1 1\2 to 2 inches. Continue to rhythmically apply this pressure at 60 times per minute, counting each compression and release as one and two and three and so on. If you are doing the heart massage on an infant, you will only want to use your fingertips, pressing down only 1\2 to 1 inch. Your count should be 100 times per minute on a child as well. If the child is ten years of age or older, use only the heel of one hand to make the compressions.
If you find yourself in a situation where you are the only person who can apply both mouth-to-mouth and heart massage you should begin by doing the breathing for two breaths and then apply 15 chest compressions at the rate of 80 per minute. Then repeat this action moving as quickly as possible from one to the other until the victim’s breathing and pulse are restored. It is very important when giving CPR that you do not give up. Some victims have been known to resume breathing even after 3 hours, so persistence may be the key to saving a life. In all cases when CPR has been applied medical help should be summoned as quickly as possible. If you are alone with a victim do not worry about calling for help before you apply CPR. The few minutes it would take you to summon help could be the critical time in saving a life. When the victim is stable enough for you to walk away, then you should call for help. When you are in a situation such as camping or hiking where no phone is available, you should stabilize the victim and then go for help. Do not try to get the victim up or move them. Make sure that help is brought to them.