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You can be a hero and save a life, all without wearing a red cape. How? By mastering how to do CPR, you can provide a lifesaving intervention.
Minutes count. Permanent brain damage can occur after the brain goes only four minutes without oxygen. Even if you have a hospital next door, the professionals will unlikely arrive in time if someone you love suffers a cardiac event.
Your best bet is to take an in-person class through an organization like the American Red Cross. However, here’s a crash course on how to do CPR in case an emergency arises before you get certified.
1. Check the Scene
First responders are perhaps the most tapped-out medical professionals next to nurses after the ravages COVID-19 wrought. The last thing you want to do is add to their workload by becoming yet another injured person in need of rescue. Therefore, always check for the following before approaching a scene:
- Apparent dangers include downed power lines, passing traffic, automobiles at risk of exploding or industrial machinery with the power running.
- Less obvious hazards: Bystanders could want to harm you — for example, a domestic violence situation. Furthermore, natural dangers like water can carry electrical currents.
2. Call for Help
Please don’t think you’ll perform CPR, and the patient will rebound to normal. All cardiac events require medical attention. If you’re alone, call 911 before approaching the patient.
However, take command if there are other bystanders. Point to one individual in particular and say, “You. Call 911.” Otherwise, folks could mill around, assuming someone else has made the call.
Finally, many states require certain public locations like restaurants and gyms to have an AED onsite. Repeat the direct order to a different person — preferably one in uniform as they’re more likely to know the location — saying, “You. Get the AED.”
3. Shout, Tap, Shout
Now, you’re ready to check for responsiveness, breathing and injury extent by approaching the patient. Use the shout-tap-shout method:
- Shout: “Are you okay?” Be sure to be loud — those with hearing impairments may not otherwise respond.
- Tap: The person on their shoulder. Try not to move them.
- Shout: Repeat “are you okay,” then check for breathing and heartbeat. If you can’t detect any, move on to the next step.
4. Position the Patient
There’s a reason gurneys don’t have pillowtop mattresses — you can’t do CPR on a soft surface. Furthermore, few patients conveniently lose consciousness in savasana.
Therefore, you must move them, although you should keep this action as minimal as possible. If the patient is on their stomach, get them on their side, then roll them away from you to maintain better control and avoid any appearance of impropriety. They should be flat on their back on a hard surface. Remove outer clothing, which may mean cutting through bras — when seconds count, don’t worry about their lingerie.
5. Position Yourself
Here’s where real-life CPR differs from what you’ll see on TV. Those ribbon arms flapping around like an advertisement in front of a car dealership don’t do the trick, but they do keep actors from harming their colleagues.
You should kneel by the patient’s side so that both your palms line up over the midline of their chest. You might take your finger, find the tip of their breastbone and then place your fist, moving your position between their nipples.
Keep your arms stiff. It takes a lot of effort to perform chest compressions — spaghetti arms won’t qualify. Instead, use your body weight to push you up and down. You will feel your core the next day.
Keep in mind that you may hear ribs crack. While unpleasant, this is normal. Each compression should go to a depth of two inches to be effective.
6. Give 30 Compressions
Now, it’s time to give your compressions. You should move quickly, working at a pace of 100 to 120 compressions per minute.
7. Open the Airway and Give Two Breaths
Once you complete the first round of compressions, give two rescue breaths. Begin by positioning the patient.
Place two fingers under their chin and put your opposite palm against their forehead to gently tip their head back to open the airway. Here’s where you want to use PPE — you can find specialized dental dams that make this step safer.
Otherwise, make a tight seal with your lips and blow. You should visibly see their chest rise. If they start breathing on their own, great. If not, give another breath.
If you can’t get air in, and the person was choking, the object may still be lodged in their windpipe. Sweep it out with your finger only if you can see it. Otherwise, use chest compressions to dislodge it, continuing until help arrives or the item pops into their mouth for removal.
8. Continue Until Help Arrives
After the initial rescue breaths, you’ll keep going — 30 compressions, then two breaths, rinse and repeat. Finally, roll up those sleeves (metaphorically speaking) as you need to continue CPR until one of three things happens:
- The patient regains consciousness: At which point, stop and monitor them until help arrives.
- Another trained individual takes over: If there are bystanders, welcome help. Giving CPR is exhausting — you’ll welcome the assistance. Try swapping during rescue breaths. Another alternative is if an AED is available, as you’ll need to stop CPR while using this lifesaving device.
- First responders arrive: Once they come, they will take over patient care but keep up the compressions until directed to stop.
How to Do CPR
Do you want to save a life? Knowing how to do CPR can help you become a hero in a cardiac emergency.
Consider this your crash course on how to do CPR. Study it well, then enroll in a class to get your certification.
Jack Shaw is a senior writer at Modded. Jack is an avid enthusiast for keeping up with personal health and enjoying nature. He has over five years of experience writing in the men's lifestyle niche, and has written extensively on topics of fitness, exploring the outdoors and men's interests. His writings have been featured in SportsEd TV, Love Inc., and Offroad Xtreme among many more publications.