Save a life — learn CPR
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a life saving technique useful in many emergencies, including heart attack or near drowning, electric shocks in which someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped.
CPR can keep oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs until more definitive medical treatment can restore a normal heart rhythm. When the heart stops, the lack of oxygenated blood can cause brain damage in only a few minutes. A person may die within 8-10 minutes. Before starting CPR, please check:
* If the person conscious or unconscious
* If the person appears unconscious, tap or shake his or her shoulder and ask loudly, "Are you alright?"
* Remember 'CAB' — it stands for compressions, airway & breathing — to help people remember the order to perform the steps of CPR
Compressions: Restore blood circulation
1. Put the person on his or her back on a firm surface.
2. Kneel next to the person's neck and shoulders.
3. Place the heel of one hand over the center of the person's chest, between the nipples. Place your other hand on top of the first hand. Keep your elbows straight and position your shoulders directly above your hands.
4. Use your upper body weight (not just your arms) as you push straight down on (compress) the chest at least 2 inches (approximately 5 centimeters). Push hard at a rate of about 100 compressions a minute.
5. If you have not been trained in CPR, continue chest compressions until there are signs of movement or until emergency medical personnel take over. If you have been trained in CPR, go on to checking the airway and rescue breathing.
Airway: Clear the airway
1. If you are trained in CPR and you have performed 30 chest compressions, open the person's airway using the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver. Put your palm on the person's forehead and gently tilt the head back. Then with the other hand, gently lift the chin forward to open the airway.
2. Check for normal breathing, taking no more than five or 10 seconds. Look for chest motion, listen for normal breath sounds, and feel for the person's breath on your cheek and ear. Gasping is not considered to be normal breathing. If the person is not breathing normally and you are trained in CPR, begin mouth-to-mouth breathing. If you believe the person is unconscious from a heart attack and you haven't been trained in emergency procedures, skip mouth-to-mouth breathing and continue chest compressions.
Breathing: Breathe for the person
Rescue breathing can be mouth-to-mouth breathing or mouth-to-nose breathing if the mouth is seriously injured or can't be opened.
1. With the airway open (using the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver), pinch the nostrils shut for mouth-to-mouth breathing and cover the person's mouth with yours, making a seal.
2. Prepare to give two rescue breaths. Give the first rescue breath — lasting one second — and watch to see if the chest rises. If it does rise, give the second breath. If the chest does not rise, repeat the head-tilt, chin-lift maneuver and then give the second breath. Thirty chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths is considered one cycle.
3. Resume chest compressions to restore circulation.
4. Continue CPR until there are signs of movement or emergency medical personnel take over.
If you are you interested to learn CPR, you can see videos. You need not to be a master of it. Just learn how to tackle the emergencies so that a life can be saved by your little effort.
The writer is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Z H Sikder Women's Medical College & Hospital, Dhaka.