CPR Should Be Com-pulse-ory for Parents
Parents have been asking me whether it’s worth learning CPR. You bet your child’s life it is! So let me tell you more about this important topic.
If you come upon someone who falls to the ground because their heart is weak or even stops, the odds of that person surviving are lower if you don’t know how to do CPR. Put another way, if you and at least 70% of the country learned CPR (although I would love to see 100% of us learn it), it is estimated that a minimum of 20,000 lives could be saved every year.
What is CPR? It stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation - some long words but learning it is as simple as ABC. Or I should say C-A-B because of some recent recommendations by the American Heart Association. If you find that an infant or child appears unresponsive to any kind of stimulation, such as rubbing the chest or pinching fingers or toes, follow these three steps:
1) C is for Circulation: keep circulation going by doing chest compressions when the heart is too weak to do it itself. The name of the game with compressions is to push hard and fast - more than 100 times a minute similar to the beat in the old Bee Gees song "Staying Alive" - for you fans of the film Saturday Night Fever..
2) A is for Airway: if after 30 compressions, your child is not responding, then make sure your child’s airway is open by gently lifting up their chin while keeping their forehead down with your other hand, and of course remove anything that might be in the way
3) B is for Breathing: if there is still no response from compressions and opening the airway, learn how to do rescue breathing. The recommended ratio for compressions to breaths is 30 compressions to 2 breaths.
If you have not been trained in CPR, the American Heart Association recommends calling 911 for help and then at least initiating hands-only CPR if the victim is an adult, given that most adult emergencies involve a heart problem. But since the heart is usually in good shape in a child, and because breathing problems remain the leading cause for needing CPR in children, it is important to know how to do the airway and breathing techniques as well, and that means learning CPR.
I can keep writing about CPR but that is nowhere near as effective as you taking a course to learn it. Places like the Red Cross or your local hospital or even some schools often offer a course several times a year. Even if you are certified, it is a great idea to get recertified every two years to learn about new advances or changes in CPR, as there have been over this past year.
Hopefully, you’ll find this week’s information to be life-saving when it comes to recognizing the importance of learning how to properly do CPR.
Lewis First, M.D., is chief of Pediatrics at Vermont Children's Hospital at Fletcher Allen Health Care and chair of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Vermont College of Medicine. You can also catch "First with Kids" weekly on WOKO 98.9FM and WPTZ Channel 5, or visit the First with Kids video archives at http://www.FletcherAllen.org/firstwithkids