November is CPR awareness month in Canada.
According to the Canadian Red Cross, the majority of Canadians are able to recognize the signs of someone experiencing a heart attack, but less than half say they have the skills to help in this kind of life-threatening emergency.
Changes in training
Although many may think CPR training stays the same, Sonya Battle, professor of the School of Public Safety at Fanshawe College, says training is
“We’ve taken out that mouth to mouth component…that way when someone comes across a patient without vital signs they can just use their two hands and treat that patient and not have to worry about the germaphobia that comes with having to do mouth-to-mouth…This change greatly benefits the public,” she said.
Even though many places such as Fanshawe College teach compression only CPR, Lorraine Deming, First Aid 4U instructor, says the mouth-to-mouth component should not be entirely discarded.
“We teach mouth-to-mouth so that we can make sure that the blood we’re pushing around the body, to keep the patient alive when doing CPR, has lots of oxygen. This way it actually works,” she added.
Can you perform CPR on anyone?
There are certain rules surrounding CPR and consent. These rules are different for adults and children. Deming says adults who are unconscious carry implied consent and can be helped immediately. However, if the individual is conscious they must confirm they want someone’s help.
“If the adult is conscious, but says no in any way, even a non-verbal no like a hand gesture of no, you can’t touch them. That’s when we definitely want you to call 911,” Deming added.
When it comes to children they also carried implied consent. However, if their guardian or caregiver directs you not to, you cannot help them. Deming notes that when helping a conscious child, it is important to explain to them what you will be doing in order to avoid frightening them.
What if I’m not CPR trained, but someone needs help?
Deming says the media has popularized certain false methods for performing CPR including doing compressions with bent arms, frantically pushing on someone’s chest, or doing it to the rhythm of “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.
“In lots of those great TV shows where we love the storyline, the medicine is not always completely accurate. We want to keep the science of it true so hopefully everyone is on the same page,” she said.
Deming says individuals who are not properly trained should refrain from resuscitating a person.
“Technically if you don’t have the training you shouldn’t be putting hands on somebody, but there’s always something you can do in an emergency. You can be the person who calls 911. You can be the person who asks if anyone else in the room knows CPR,” she added.
CPR step by step
According to Deming, there are certain steps a CPR trained individual should follow when performing CPR.
- Make sure you are safe. If you’re injured you cannot help anyone.
- Check whether the person is breathing. Check for blood.
- If the person is not breathing, call 911.
- Then start chest compressions to move the blood around the body so that oxygen can reach the brain. The ratio of compressions to breaths is 30 compressions followed by two breaths.
- Perform mouth to mouth to increase oxygen levels.
CPR is a valuable skill set that can make the difference between life and death for someone.
“We all go to the supermarket, we all go to the park and emergencies can happen anywhere and everywhere. CPR is something everyone should know, so anybody can jump in with the knowledge and confidence that can help save a life,” Deming added.
CPR training demonstration at First Aid 4U