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The STS blog

16 Oct 2017

Let’s talk about CPR

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On the 16th October 2017, it is ‘Restart a Heart’ day. A day where multiple organisations club together to raise awareness about the importance of knowing how and when to do CPR.

At STS, naturally we understand the importance of this, so here’s our easy to follow blog on all things CPR.

 

  1. What does it stand for?

CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation. Cardio is all to do with the heart. Pulmonary is all to do with the lungs. Resuscitation is the act that we are doing to try and bring the casualty back. Ultimately, what it stands for isn’t our concern. It’s how and when to do it that’s important. At no point should you stop doing CPR to tell someone what it stands for. Don’t worry.

 

  1. When do we use it?

We are only using CPR when someone is unresponsive and not breathing or unresponsive and not breathing normally. If you come across someone who isn’t responding to you, gently tip their head back and check their breathing for up to 10 seconds. If you hear, see or feel nothing…what are you waiting for?!

 

  1. Hold on. I don’t know how to do it! What now?

Make sure you’ve got someone to call an ambulance for you and grab a defibrillator if there’s one nearby. If not, don’t worry. The ambulance will always bring one. Meanwhile place the heel of one hand right in the centre of the chest and place the other hand over the top. They do not need to be interlocked, whatever is comfortable. Lean forward, up and over the patient. Make sure you are not sitting back on your heels. The further your body is over the casualty, the more weight you will be able to apply to the chest. Push down approximately 5-6cm repeatedly, aiming for about 2 chest compressions every second.

 

  1. Really?! That seems quite deep.

Yes really. What we are doing during CPR is acting manually as the heart. The heart isn’t working properly so we’re taking over from it. This means we need to ensure we’re pushing down hard enough to circulate the blood around the body. The blood carries oxygen to all the vital organs enabling us to keep the body alive until the ambulance arrives. At this point it’s worth mentioning that it’s possible to break ribs during CPR. Please don’t panic. If you feel a rib break just carry on as normal. Better to be alive with a broken rib than the alternative.

 

  1. So CPR isn’t to make them start breathing? That’s not what the movies say…

The chest compressions in CPR are to keep the blood circulating around the body. It is not to make somebody start breathing.  It’s not impossible for this to happen of course and if it does…well done, you’ve just saved their life and you should expect at least a cup of coffee in return. But we want to manage your expectations. The likelihood is if you’ve started CPR you will be doing it until the ambulance arrives. Don’t panic. They’ll be there very soon as there’s nothing worse than not breathing.

 

  1. You’ve not mentioned anything about blowing into their mouth?

No we haven’t because that’s optional. At no point will you be forced to do rescue breaths if it makes you uncomfortable. If you’d like to do them, gently tip the patients head back, squeeze their nostrils closed and deliver two rescue breaths making sure you come away from the mouth in between each one so YOU get a breath of fresh air as well as them.

 

  1. So…two hands in the centre of their chest, lean forward up and over the casualty and push down 5-6cm, twice a second until the ambulance arrives? That’s it?

Yep. That’s it.

 

 

Hopefully, you will never find yourself in a situation where using this skill will be necessary. However, we really believe that knowledge is power and if you do come across this scenario we hope we’ve given you the confidence to help restart a heart.