Friday, December 05, 2008

Firefighters and CPR Training

I attended CPR training yesterday. Yes, groan and moan. We all dread it. The last time I took it I went in with a terrible attitude about how horrid and boring and mind numbing it was going to be. Then the instructor got started and I realized this was not the CPR class I had come to expect. Our church brings in a group called CPR Resources to teach our classes. It is a group of firefighters who teach on their off days. This time around I didn't go in dreading it because I knew it would be good and entertaining.

The firefighters are truly fabulous. They are very down to earth and have a great sense of humor. They make the class fun and present things in a way that doesn't make CPR and first aid seem so daunting and intimidating. I think the fact that they are out in the real world using these skills on a regular basis allows them to present CPR as something that isn't a big deal.

One of the things I think they do a great job with is emphasizing that doing anything is better than doing nothing. Doing CPR incorrectly is much better than not doing it at all! I think that takes the pressure off of the student to have to write down and remember every last single detail. You don't leave with the feeling of I'll never know this good enough to do it if I need to. You leave feeling capable. Big difference.

Interesting things I learned or was reminded of today (disclaimer: do not use this as your guide for performing CPR. Go look up the proper guidelines at the Red Cross web site or somewhere, these are just my observations.):

  • 30 compressions to two breaths. Compressions should be quick and hard enough push the chest a 1/3 of the way to the spine. Breaths should be just enough to see the chest move.
  • For a good compression rhythm try humming "Another One Bites the Dust." The beat in this song is exactly 100 beats per minute. If you are the more optimistic type you can try "Staying Alive" as it has a similar beat/minute.
  • ABC (Airway, breathe, compressions) repeat.
  • When giving CPR you are not going to see any dramatic change in the person. Chances are you won't have a TV moment where all the sudden the person regains consciousness and is fine.
  • If someone vomits or emits other bodily functions that does not mean I have succeeded or failed, it just means their muscles have relaxed from lack of oxygen.
  • There is nothing you can do in CPR that will cause more harm than not performing CPR
  • Chances are you will break ribs. Keep going. Ribs can be fixed later.
  • Even performing CPR on someone who doesn't really need it will not do unrepairable damage.
  • You no longer check pulse before doing CPR. Now you check responsiveness and breathing. If completely unresponsive and not breathing then start CPR.
  • Must public places have defibrillators. If you have one handy use it. They are idiot proof. Always dispatch a helper to locate one.
  • CPR is usually not a cure it is life support. It simply keeps the patient from getting worse (we hope) but won't fix the problem.
  • CPR has two goals: To keep the heart fibrillating and to get oxygen to the brain.
  • In the state of TX you have to be 18 and have a license to cut someone's hair, but even elementary students are taught CPR - Obviously you can't mess it up too much or do too much damage if we are teaching kids to do it.
  • CPR has a 20-50% success rate even if you do everything exactly right! This doesn't mean you shouldn't do it, it just means that if the person doesn't make it that is not indicative that CPR was performed incorrectly. Again bad CPR is better than no CPR.
  • Infants for some reason respond really well to CPR and you are less like to break ribs on small children as their bones are much more flexible.
I know there are a lot more things I learned and I may not have gotten all of these exactly right. But you know what? I did walk away with the assurance that anything I can do is better than just sitting, crying and waiting for help. Any assistance is better than no assistance.

Michael mentioned in passing the other day that he assumed the reason we were excited about the firefighters was due to their looks. I explained that while the looks didn't hurt it had a lot more to do with their approach to teaching the class and their sense of humor. They really do make the process non-intimidating.

If you haven't had a CPR class in the last couple years I urge you to go take one. And if you have a firefighter group that teaches it that is where I would go.

I hope I never need this information but it does give me peace of mind to know I have some clue what to do if an emergency ever arises.


Cici said...

Iqm SO glad you went.

Cici said...

Still can't type on "this thing"

Brenna and Molly said...

I did a refresher CPR First Aid over the summer for Girl Scouts. It really is a good thing to have!