Summer is finally upon us and with it comes various outdoors activities such as boating, swimming, fishing, and water sports. Despite being safe and wearing personal protection and floatation devices, each year there are tragedies and fatalities that could be avoided. Although learning the basics of swimming is important, those lessons alone aren’t always enough to save a life. Water safety skills combined with knowledge and emergency preparedness are life skills that can save a person.
The Canadian Red Cross has undergone several changes over the years when it comes to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). One of the key changes to Red Cross courses is teaching compression-only CPR for the lay rescuer.
This new technique of performing CPR has recently emerged based on research that was published in the Circulation Journal and based on new evidence released from the International Liaison Committee on Resuscitation (ILCOR).
When a person collapses suddenly, performing consistent chest compressions will pump the heart and circulate the oxygen that is already in the person’s body. The goal is to keep the blood moving until emergency services arrive. The Canadian Red Cross acknowledges that compression-only CPR is a great alternative for those who are unwilling, uncertain, or unable to provide “full CPR” which includes rescue breathing. For the lay rescuer, “full CPR” consists of 30 compressions to 2 rescue breaths on adults, children and babies.
There are, however, special circumstances when performing compression-only CPR is not recommended, such as a drowning scenario. Compression-only CPR should not be used in a drowning person and rescue breaths are vital as the person’s lungs are filled with water and they do not have adequate stores of oxygen in the lungs or in the blood.
When performing CPR on a drowning person, follow these lifesaving steps:
- Recognize the emergency and always protect yourself in the scene
- Check the scene for safety and then check the person
- If the person is not breathing and not responding, immediately get help by activating 911 or your local emergency medical system (EMS)
- Ask someone to get an automated external defibrillator (AED)
- Immediately insert one rescue breath
- At the center of the chest, perform 30 continuous compressions with a depth of two inches on an adult, or an inch and a half on a child or a baby
- Upon completing 30 compressions, plug the nose and perform a head tilt chin lift. Insert one rescue breath. Pause and then add a second rescue breath. Do not over breathe into the person. Each breath should be just enough to get the chest to begin to rise
- Perform another 30 continuous compressions. Add two more rescue breaths.
- Continue the cycle of 30 compressions to 2 rescue breaths until another trained first aider can help, a higher medical authority arrives, when the AED is in “analyze mode” or “shock mode” or when the person wakes up
- If the person becomes responsive, immediately roll them into the recovery position so that they can expel any water in their stomach or lungs
CPR is easy to learn and can save lives. Water safety skills combined with the latest Red Cross Program Standards and emergency preparedness are life skills that can help save a person. It is important to keep your training up to date and regularly practice your skills. There are several organizations that provide training such as the Red Cross, St. John’s Ambulance, Life Saving Society, or the Heart and Stroke Foundation. Contact your local provider and book your course today.