Sunday, January 16, 2011

You Can Save A Life...

I have been an Instructor for The American Heart Association for 15 years. I've taught many classes over the years for our local college. I mainly teach their Healthcare Provider course. However, recently I was thinking about how easy it would be for a bystander (an untrained person) to help save a life by doing just a few simple things (thank you to my husband Bill, for demonstrating these skills for me):

If you witness someone suddenly collapse, tap them and ask "Are You Okay"...

If there is no response, send someone to phone 911, or your local emergency number. If no one is available, then you phone the emergency number yourself...

Next, place the heal of one hand in the center of their chest.

Place your other hand on top of the first hand. Interlock or extend your fingers to keep them off of the chest.

Then, push hard and fast, and don't stop until help arrives. Remember to continue pushing hard and fast, unless the person starts showing signs of life, (any coughing, breathing, or movement), another trained rescuer takes over, or your local emergency services arrives and is ready to take over.

Here is a section I copied off of the American Heart Association Website:

>Why don’t adults who suddenly collapse need mouth-to-mouth breathing in the first few minutes after their cardiac arrest?

When an adult suddenly collapses with cardiac arrest, their lungs and blood contain enough oxygen to keep vital organs healthy for the first few minutes, as long as someone provides high quality chest compressions with minimal interruption to pump blood to the heart and brain.

•When an adult suddenly collapses with cardiac arrest, the cause is usually an electrical malfunction, an abrupt onset of an abnormal heart rhythm. The most common abnormal rhythm causing sudden cardiac arrest is ventricular fibrillation (VF). VF causes the heart to quiver so it does not pump blood. Before a sudden collapse, the adult was probably breathing normally. At the time of a sudden collapse, the adult's lungs and blood are likely to have a fresh supply of oxygen that can last for at least a few minutes even if breathing stops.

•Consider when you hold your breath while floating in a pool. Most people can hold their breath for quite a while, as long as they are not moving.
•Another reason that breaths may not be needed during the first minutes after collapse is that a person in cardiac arrest needs less oxygen than a person who is not in cardiac arrest.

•For these reasons, the most important thing a bystander can do for a person in sudden cardiac arrest is to pump blood to the brain and to the heart muscle, delivering the oxygen that still remains in the lungs and blood. A rescuer can do this by giving high-quality chest compressions with minimal interruptions. Interruptions in compressions to give breaths (mouth-to-mouth breaths) may bring some additional oxygen to the lungs but the benefit of that oxygen can be offset if you stop the blood flow to the brain and heart muscle for more than a few seconds (especially in the first few minutes after a sudden cardiac arrest when there is still plenty of oxygen in the lungs and blood)., (from The American Heart Association website, Hands Only CPR)

It's important to know that even if you've never had any training, you can save a life with Hands Only CPR.

For more information, or to watch a video go to:


  1. I have heard of hands only cpr before...Is that all your teaching now?

  2. No, I teach "conventional" CPR, giving both compressions and breaths. Hands Only CPR is primarily for someone who has never been trained or for someone who is unwilling/unable to give breaths.