Performing CPR on a heart attack victim who isn’t breathing or responsive can significantly increase their chance for survival. While CPR can seem confusing or overwhelming for someone who’s never done it before, it’s actually fairly easy. First and foremost, before you start CPR or any other medical care, it’s imperative that you call your local EMS line (such as 911) and check your environment. If it isn’t safe for you to help, then don’t. Call EMS, stay clear of any hazards and tell dispatch what you know. If it is safe, then follow these seven fundamental CPR steps until an ambulance, fire truck, or a higher medical authority arrives:
- Put the heel of your dominant hand at the center of the person’s chest. Make sure the person is lying on a hard, flat surface, such as a floor. You cannot effectively perform CPR if a person is in bed or in a seated position.
- Put your other hand over your dominant hand, then interlock your fingers. If you’re doing CPR on a child (someone one to eight years old), you can use one hand. For a baby (someone newborn to 12 months old), you use two fingers.
- Start chest compressions. Lean directly over the person and keep your arms straight. Press down into their chest, then come up. It’s important to let the chest rise again fully. You should be trying to push down about two inches, or five centimeters. Aim to do around 100 compressions per minute, or to the beat of Staying’ Alive. Complete 30 chest compressions.
- Open the person’s mouth. Once you’ve done 30 chest compressions, stop; tilt the persons head back and open their mouth at the chin. Cover their face with a pocket mask or barrier device.
- Add a rescue breath. Breathe into the person’s mouth, enough for their chest to begin to rise. If you can’t see the chest starting to rise, reposition their head and try again.
- Watch the chest fall, then do another rescue breath. Once the person’s chest is settled, you can re-adjust the head if needed, then complete another rescue breath.
- Continue the 30 compressions, 2 breaths cycle. Do this until EMS arrives, the scene becomes unsafe, or if the person wakes up. If you can, switch out with another trained person, every two minutes.
While CPR can seem complex, it’s much simpler and straightforward than most would think. It all comes down to the seven fundamental CPR steps. If you want more information on first aid training, or would like to take a course, visit www.baxtersafety.com or download the Red Cross’s #BeReady or #FirstAid app.