CPR involves a lot of quick thinking and quick actions. There is so much to do – right from the correct method of reviving the patient, to calling for emergency medical care. In the midst of all that goes through your mind, (especially if you’re untrained in CPR) there’s one emotion however, that you can thankfully avoid, and that is – the awkwardness of having to breathe into a stranger’s mouth.
Ever since I first saw a movie showing a girl who had almost drowned and her saviour who performed mouth-to-mouth resuscitation on her, a few questions always baffled me.
- What is the amount of awkwardness both for the person who’s been revived and the person performing CPR ( especially if both are members of opposite sexes) after the victim gains consciousness?
- Would most people today, no matter how kind, lock lips with an absolute stranger, even if it is to save his /her life?
- Is it socially acceptable to perform this procedure? Different countries have different rules on touching, no matter what the situation is.
These questions may seem absolutely ludicrous at first, but they are of concern to the average citizen and they will be answered during the course of this article.
Many men and women are not comfortable performing mouth-to-mouth even though it is a documented means of rescue. Some even question the hygiene of the procedure, saying it is hard to lock lips with an absolute stranger.
Many human rights activists adjudge that the idea is to save a life, which is of utmost importance. When life is at stake,issues like hygiene and discomfort at having to touch a stranger are of no consequence.
While I couldn’t agree any more with the above statement, I have to point out a few facts:
- Most medical emergencies occur in the presence of at least one or two bystanders who could offer help
- Most of the general public don’t know how to perform CPR / don’t try to perform CPR for varied reasons (performing mouth-to -mouth being one)
- Survival chances of victims increase astronomically if help can be offered to them sooner
Now that we have the facts here, let’s think of the varied inhibitions we have, as humans. Most of us wouldn’t be very open to the idea of giving mouth-to-mouth to someone. The chances of this decrease even further if that someone is a stranger.
In light of these facts, wouldn’t it be more encouraging to have a CPR technique that would be successful without requiring mouth-to-mouth ? Wouldn’t more people be more acquiescent to perform CPR on someone if it didn’t require this step?
A hands-only CPR method:
A 3 -step documented hands-only CPR method released by the British Heart Foundation says:
- Call for help (use your local emergency number)
- Using both hands, push hard and fast in the centre of the chest of the patient (keep a steady rhythm of 100 compressions a minute)
- Continue these compressions till help arrives
This method is documented visually and somewhat entertainingly in this video <EMBED VIDEO LINK>
Is the hands-only method of CPR effective?
When you compress the patient’s chest at a steady rate, you create a vacuum in the patient’s chest allowing recoil. In other words, your compression technique works as the patient’s heart and mimics its action. Continuously pumping the chest ensures that blood reaches the most crucial organs like the brain. Every minute that this is delayed, the patient’s survival chances drop by ten per cent. If the brain doesn’t receive blood for five minutes – hypoxic brain damage starts to set in resulting in brain death and clinical death in another few minutes.
Is hands-only CPR effective in all cases of cardiac arrest?
Hands-only CPR can be performed on adults who have gone into cardiac arrest for reasons other than drowning.
For children, infants and drowning victims, mouth-to-mouth is a necessity, simply because the oxygen needed in such cases is not already present in the tissues as against cardiac arrest due to myocardial infarction where a hands-only technique would work.
In adults, hands-only CPR is almost doubly effective than the traditional method of mouth-to-mouth. The method is safe and more people would prefer doing it as against someone agreeing to give rescue breaths or mouth-to-mouth.
Getting over your fear of performing hands-only CPR
One does not need to be trained to perform hands-only CPR. A lot of people express their fear of breaking a rib while performing the rescue action but in the light of things, breaking a rib is a lot easier taken than losing a life.
Rescue volunteers are also protected by The Good Samaritan Act, preventing legal action being taken against them. It can also be noted that hands-only CPR also encourages more people to volunteer in case of an emergency, since it does not require oral inspiration methods. Would you hesitate to give someone mouth-to-mouth resuscitation in case of an emergency ? Would you be more open to perform CPR since a hands-only method is proven successful? Share your thoughts on this with us.
Do what you can, while you still can and save a life.