Many first responders are trained and well-prepared to perform CPR on a moment’s notice. That said, it’s always good to take a step back and realize the significance of providing CPR, as well as what it entails. Consider this blog post as the first responder’s guide to CPR.

Without getting too complex, cardiopulmonary resuscitation was developed to increase a person’s chances of survival. The procedure involves trying to restart someone’s breathing or heart by manually compressing the person’s chest and pushing air into the lungs by breathing into their mouth. Today, the breathing portion of CPR is known as mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, rescue breathing, or ventilation.

CPR Types

Standard CPR, the type that first responders are most familiar with, involves both mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and chest compression. Remember that mouth-to-mouth provides oxygen to the person’s lungs, while compression acts to keep blood circulating throughout the body. Unless a first responder performs CPR, there’s nothing to pump the blood and keep it moving when a person’s heart has stopped.

Significance of CPR

According to the American Heart Association, no central organization tracks the success of CPR, meaning there are no official statistics to back up the helpfulness of the procedure. That said, studies show that for each minute someone goes without CPR, there is a seven to 10 percent decrease in the likelihood of saving their life.

Bystander Reluctance

First responders play a critical role in getting to victims before any other medical personnel. Until they arrive, though, it’s ultimately up to bystanders to help. An all-too-common problem isn’t just that bystanders aren’t sure what to do, but that they aren’t willing to provide mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The sad reality is that too many folks fear catching a disease or are simply uncomfortable with the idea.

Necessary Conditions for CPR

There are several conditions that warrant the need for CPR:

  • Unresponsiveness - Medical events that render a person unconscious or unresponsive are typically cause for CPR to be performed. A person dealing with circulatory or respiratory collapse may become unconscious due to lack of oxygen to the brain.
  • No breathing - One who is unresponsive and not breathing likely requires immediate CPR for the best chance of survival. A first responder should assess the person’s breathing by gently pressing back on the victim’s forehead to slightly tilt the head up. Livestrong explains that the mouth should be slightly opened, and a rescuer should watch the victim’s chest for movement while listening and feeling for breath. In instances where there are no signs of breathing, CPR begins to speed up the process of returning oxygen to the brain and through the body.
  • Ineffective pulse - It’s advised that first responders provide CPR to victims who have a very low pulse or ineffective heart rhythm inconsistent with circulation. The AHA states that rescuers should initiate CPR immediately rather than feel for a pulse on an unresponsive victim.

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