Being faced with an emergency situation can be overwhelming, even for someone with First Aid training. It’s always stressful being in a situation where someone’s life is on the line. A First Aider is, however, such an important link in the chain of survival and correct management of a casualty can save a life.
Cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) circulates blood to the vital organs. When you do CPR, you are buying time! The heart can only survive without oxygen for about four minutes, so it is therefore vital to start with CPR as soon as possible.
Always keep in mind the do’s and don’ts of CPR. It’s helpful to practice these steps and also to go for refresher First Aid courses on a regular basis.
- Make sure the casualty is lying on a hard, flat surface.
- Locate the correct spot to do the chest compressions by placing the heel of your one hand on the breast bone (sternum) in the middle of the chest between the nipples. Place your second hand on top of the first hand. Interlock your fingers and keep them off the ribs.
- Press down (compress) at least 5cm, keeping your elbows straight.
- Release the pressure but do not take your hands off the chest.
- Check for obvious obstructions in the mouth and remove them.
- Open the airway with the head tilt/chin lift method.
- If available, insert a resusci-aide.
- Close casualty’s nose by squeezing the soft parts of the nose with your fingers.
- Take a (normal) breath.
- Place your mouth over the casualty’s mouth and ensure a good seal.
- Breathe into the casualty’s mouth until you see the chest rise. This should take about one second.
- Lift your head, take a breath and give another breath (2 breaths in total).
- Do take care that exhaustion does not cause inadequate compression rates. When two or more rescuers are available, they can take turns. The “takeover” must take less than five seconds.
Very important: The pressure on the chest must be released completely between compressions.
Repeat this 30 times at a speed of 120 per minute then give two breaths.
If the chest does not rise after two breaths, check that:
- the airway is not obstructed – look in the mouth. Do not probe in the mouth with your fingers if you cannot see anything — you might push the obstruction further down the throat.
- the chin is lifted sufficiently to lift the tongue.
- you have an airtight seal around the mouth.
- you have closed the nose effectively to prevent air from escaping.
Open the airway and try two more ventilations. If you still cannot make the chest rise then give First Aid for an obstructed airway.
- Don’t bend your arms – keep them as straight as possible. This is because arm muscles tire much quicker than body weight. Keeping the arms straight helps that your body weight drives the compression down and maintain proper depth.
- Avoid bouncing. Your hands need to stay in contact with the casualty’s chest during compressions.
- Don’t “lean” on the patient.
- Don’t rock i.e. compress from the side you’re kneeling on. The First Aider’s shoulders should be up over the middle of the victim’s body so that compressions go straight down.
- Avoid “massaging” by pointing your fingers down into the casualty’s body. The fingers need to be interlaced or one hand on top of the other with fingers extended off the patient’s chest as the force of compression is driven through the heel of the hand.
Do not stop CPR unless:
- somebody supplies an Automated External Defibrillator (AED).
- the emergency services arrive to relieve you.
- the casualty shows signs of life.
- you are too exhausted to go on any longer.
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