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CPR is one of the key areas of first aid that many people are still confused by.  What does it mean?  How do you do it?  When is it needed?  As a first aid trainer and trained nurse, I know just how vital those first minutes can be, so here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know.

CPR stands for Cardio, Pulmonary Resuscitation and covers the stages that should be used if someone is unconscious and not breathing.  When you are resuscitating someone, you are acting as a life support machine.  When you push on their chest, you are being their heart – and when you breathe into them, you are being their lungs.  You are keeping their heart and brain full of oxygenated blood, keeping them alive, so that when the paramedics arrive with a defibrillator they have a good chance of bringing them back to life.

So – how do you actually perform CPR?

If you are with someone and they become unconscious – and when you check closely you find they aren’t breathing – you need to open their airway and commence CPR as quickly as possible. If you have access to a Defibrillator (AED), you should use that and call for an ambulance.  A defibrillator is used to give a shock to stop the heart if it is in a shockable rhythm. The heart’s own back-up system should then re-start.  You cannot do any harm, as the machine will not let you deliver a shock to them if they don’t need it.  The chance of surviving a cardiac arrest jumps from 6% to 74% if a casualty is in a shockable rhythm and receives a shock from a defibrillator within 3 minutes.  Always act quickly.  Defibrillators can be found in many public places and they are extremely easy to use. Open it up, apply the pads and follow the voice prompts.

How to give CPR to an adult:

An adult who has had a cardiac arrest may well still have some oxygenated blood in their system.  This can sustain them for 3 or 4 minutes – but only if someone is pushing on their chest to pump that blood around their body.  After this time, or after about 30 compressions, they will start to run out of oxygenated blood, so you need to get more oxygen into their system. To keep the casualty oxygenated:

Firstly, place the heel of your hand on the centre of the person’s chest, then place the other hand on top and press down by 5-6cm at a steady rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute.

Then, after every 30 chest compressions, give two rescue breaths (making sure you fully cover their mouth and form a tight seal).  Continue this until the ambulance arrives.

How to give CPR to a child:

Children are unable to retain oxygen in their system with the same efficiency as adults, so when resuscitating a child you will need to start with 5 rescue breaths. Then, tilt their head back and lift their chin (in order to open their airway) and then breathe into them sufficiently for their chest to rise, once again ensuring you fully cover their mouth to form a tight seal.

This should then be followed by 30 chest compressions, pushing down on the chest by about a third and pushing hard and fast.

Get an ambulance on the way and then continue: 2 breaths: 30 compressions….

 

How to give CPR to a baby:

CPR

As with the adult and child advice first open their airway and check to see if they are breathing.  If you think they are not breathing properly (less than 2 breaths in a 10 second period), start CPR.  Tilt their head and lift their chin until it is horizontal and give up to 5 rescue breaths. Seal your mouth around their mouth and nose (if you can fit your mouth over both) and blow into them gently with a puff of your cheeks (their lungs are about the size of a teabag – so don’t breathe too hard).  If they start to gurgle when you breathe into them, briefly turn them onto their side and empty any vomit from their mouth, before continuing with the breaths. Then, push down by a third of their depth with two thumbs or fingers.  Push hard and fast on the centre of their chest – roughly between the nipples at a rate of about 120 beats per minute – roughly 2 per second

After about 30 compressions…you will need to give them 2 more breaths and then continue with the compressions again. Keep going with this until the ambulance arrives.

If you are on your own, you should perform 1 minute’s CPR before phoning for an ambulance (5 breaths, 30:2, 30:2 is about a minute). Continue until the paramedics arrive.

If the casualty is unconscious but they are still breathing, you should put them into the recovery position and monitor them closely to make sure they continue to breathe.

It is vital to resuscitate if you are unsure.  It is much better to attempt to resuscitate someone who doesn’t need it, than not to resuscitate someone who does! To read the full article on adult and child CPR, and for information on why it is so important that you give breaths and well as compressions, visit https://firstaidforlife.org.uk/breaths-cpr-important/.  It might just help you to save a life.

CPR is one of the key areas of first aid that many people are still confused by.  What does it mean?  How do you do it?  When is it needed?  As a first aid trainer and trained nurse, I know just how vital those first minutes can be, so here’s a quick rundown of everything you need to know.

CPR stands for Cardio, Pulmonary Resuscitation and covers the stages that should be used if someone is unconscious and not breathing.  When you are resuscitating someone, you are acting as a life support machine.  When you push on their chest, you are being their heart – and when you breathe into them, you are being their lungs.  You are keeping their heart and brain full of oxygenated blood, keeping them alive, so that when the paramedics arrive with a defibrillator they have a good chance of bringing them back to life.

Written by Emma Hammett for First Aid for Life

It is strongly advised that you attend a Practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency. Please visit www.firstaidforlife.org.uk  and www.onlinefirstaid.com for more information about our practical and online courses and to access free resources.

First Aid for life provides this information for guidance and it is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. First Aid for Life is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information.

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