We all know that learning CPR and using an automated external defibrillator are valuable skills to obtain, but studies show that nearly half of America still do not possess these abilities or feel confident that they would use them if they do.
In the United States, more than 325,000 people go into cardiac arrest outside of a medical setting every year. When those people receive CPR immediately, their odds of survival are more than doubled. The likelihood that they won’t suffer brain damage or other lasting harm increases significantly as well. So why don’t more bystanders perform CPR on people who are in need and why isn’t everyone trained in CPR and AED use? Here, we will discuss the five most common reasons that keep bystanders from performing CPR.
- In a new study, researchers asked 677 people about barriers to performing bystander CPR. The primary reason for inaction was a concern about causing additional injury to a patient, especially if that patient was elderly, female or adolescent. This is a perceived barrier, if someone is in cardiac arrest and is in need of CPR these individuals are essentially ‘dead’, they are breathless, unresponsive and have no pulse. There is nothing a bystander can do to make their condition any ‘worse’. CPR and use of an AED can only increase their chance of survival and any bodily trauma or injuries sustained while performing these actions will generally resolve quickly on their own should the resuscitation be successful.
- The second most common reason reported why bystanders do not perform or learn CPR was a lack of CPR training and ability. Those who have not been trained, or have not kept up with their CPR training and skills may not feel confident in what to do and feel scared, worried, or embarrassed. If someone is untrained and unsure of what to do and has these negative feelings it is far less likely that they will attempt to perform CPR which is another reason why regular training is essential.
- An additional reason given for people to not perform CPR was fear of exposing a patient or being perceived as touching a patient inappropriately. Overall, women are 27 percent less likely than men to receive CPR from a bystander. This is an alarming statistic as gender, age and other demographics do not matter to someone in cardiac arrest, the patient’s heart, brain and vital organs need CPR to help oxygenate them and keep them alive.
- Additionally, today’s society is very litigious, we hear stories on the news and read articles online or in the newspaper about various multi-million dollar lawsuits nearly every day. It is unfortunate that this barrier exists, however, it is more important for individuals to know that there is protection against being sued. Many have heard of the Good Samaritans Law, but not everyone knows what this does for them. This is a law in every state that protects lay responders who act within their scope of training, (even if that training is none) and respond in a good faith effort to help a fellow citizen. Under these conditions if CPR or any emergency care is attempted, whether the skills utilized are ‘right or wrong’ and regardless of the outcome of the patient that person cannot be held legally liable. In short, if you try to help someone the best you can you cannot be held liable and therefore should always attempt to help to the best of your abilities which is covered in all training courses.
- Fear of body fluids, contamination and disease is yet another barrier that stops many from responding. People are worried they may get sick or catch a disease if they perform CPR on someone. CPR classes address these concerns to overcome this barrier by discussing bloodborne pathogens, how they work, and how you can protect yourself and do the best for the victim, even if you don’t have an arsenal of safety equipment.
Cost of training is another consideration by many and used as an excuse for not taking a CPR class or learning these skills. However, many fire departments and local agencies are able to provide discounted or free training and the cost of a class, depending on your location and training agency is usually well under $100 which seems like a small price to pay to get proper training and feel confident, willing and able to act in case of emergency. Most CPR classes and certifications are valid for 2 years so this knowledge would cost roughly 13 cents a day over two years and will continue well beyond this timeframe.
Of the 677 people surveyed, fewer than 65 percent of respondents said that they would be “extremely likely” or “moderately likely” to perform CPR. It is clear, from these results, that additional CPR education and training is key to ensuring that more bystanders perform CPR.
The American Red Cross and American Heart Association along with other organizations have been pushing for many years to train more people in these life-saving skills. Even in their curriculum they note many of these ‘barriers to act’, the reasons many Americans still would not know what to do in case of a medical emergency. By taking a CPR class from a reputable organization all of these barriers are addressed so that more people can feel ready to help in case of emergency. If you don’t know CPR you are less likely to help someone in need and that person could be someone you know or love, take a CPR course to overcome the barriers to act and learn how to save a life, there’s no reason not to.