CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) pretty much goes hand-in-hand with the First Aid certification completed earlier this month. CPR works, kind of (but I'll get to that later), by providing much needed oxygen to a failing circulatory system and occasionally knocking the heart back into a steady rhythm.
But actors on TV and in movies make CPR look easy. By straddling the unconscious victim, blowing into their mouth, and pounding on their chest like Donkey Kong, anyone — regardless of their Emmy or Academy Award status — can bring someone back from the edge of death. Even if you've never enrolled in a CPR class before, you know the general concept.
Unfortunately, though, cardiopulmonary resuscitation is nowhere near as sexy as television and the movies make it out to be. Even when performed properly, CPR usually ends up cracking the rib cage of an unconscious person, which could really overpower an episode's laugh track. I'm guessing after those first snaps, chest compressions become MUCH easier.
Even without bone breakage, the success rate for a full recovery is staggeringly low, like somewhere in the two percent range. And only 4% to 16% of patients who received CPR lived long enough to eventually be discharged from the hospital.
Certain death doesn't sound too bad when the other option is a two percent chance of living through some stranger slobbering down your throat and busting through your rib cage like Mortal Kombat.
The Course and Certification
I took the "ProFirstAid" course (FREE to get certified, but $39.95 if you want a printed certificate) through Pro First Aid which includes instruction for both Adult and Pediatric CPR because some kids are worth trying to save, I guess.
What To Know
Before you begin:
- Is the person conscious? No.
- If the person appears unconscious, tap or shake his or her shoulder and ask loudly, "Are you OK?"
- If the person doesn't respond and two people are available, one should call 911 or the local emergency number and one should begin CPR. Draw straws for fun and to waste a little more time.
- If you are alone and have immediate access to a telephone (such as a cell phone to which EVERYONE should have access), call 911 before beginning CPR.
- However, if you think the person has become unresponsive because of suffocation (such as from drowning), begin CPR for one minute and then call 911 or the local emergency number.