Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Because the brain and other vital organs live only for a few minutes after the heart stops it is important to be able to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) so that blood flow can be maintained. And of course, CPR is only performed on an unconscious person who has no circulation i.e. pulse.
CPR combines rescue breathing and chest compressions. It is the chest compressions that makes the blood flow when the heart is otherwise not beating. The rescue breathing serves to simulate normal breathing so that oxygen can be made available to the body for circulation.
Without CPR, brain cells begin to die within 4 to 6 minutes. Even with CPR, the chances of survival are slim unless defibrillation can be applied and advanced medical care arrives within 5 minutes.
When doing CPR expect some ribs to break, especially if the casualty is elderly. Don't concern yourself with this though as bones will heal.
The basics of chest compressions involve:
- Positioning the person flat on their backs on a firm surface.
- Kneeling beside the person midway between the chest and the head. This is position is important since you will be alternating between chest compressions abd breaths.
- Leaning over the chest and placing your hands in the correct position over the lower half of the sternum.
- Compressing the chest (about 1.5 to 2 inches) by alternately pressing straight down and releasing in a smooth, uniform pattern.
For more information refer to Emergency Action Principles.