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Published on August 06, 2015

CPR Can Save a Life

CPR Teen Class

Spending your days enjoying the outdoors and splashing in a pool with friends and family can make for a fun-filled summer. But in between cannon balls in the deep end, running around outside and enjoying the warm weather, an emergency could strike.

If this happens, will you know what to do?

According to the American Heart Association, about 70 percent of cardiac arrests happen at home, making it important to know what to do in case of an emergency.

“Studies show that about 90 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital cardiac events do not survive. However, CPR can double or triple a person’s chance of surviving,” Kathryn McCarter, MSHA, RN, CCP, director, Community Health, Jefferson Health - Abington, explains. “Your chance of survival greatly increases when CPR is started before emergency responders arrive.” Yet, according to the American Heart Association, less than 46 percent of people who experience an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest receive the immediate help that they need before professional help arrives.

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is utilized in cardiac emergencies, including a heart attack or near drowning, in which someone's breathing or heartbeat has stopped.

“When a person has a sudden cardiac arrest, the first moments in time are very critical in getting hands on the chest and pumping blood to the rest of the body to keep all of the organs nourished and vital,” McCarter said.

When the heart stops, a lack of oxygenated blood flow to the brain can cause brain damage in just minutes. A person may die within eight to 10 minutes without oxygenated blood flow to the brain and organs.

If you don’t know how to perform CPR, you’re not alone – the American Heart Association (AHA) reports that 70 percent of Americans either don’t know it or have let their training lapse, and feel helpless to act during a cardiac emergency.

“Calling 911 is always the very first thing anyone should do. That dispatcher is going to talk people through what they need to do,” McCarter said. “There’s really no difference if you're around a pool or in your living room, make sure the victim is on a hard, flat surface, and the most important thing is to call 911.”

If you aren’t trained how to do CPR, the dispatcher will likely instruct you to begin performing hands-only CPR.

“Put your hands on the center [of the victim’s] chest and push down hard and fast to about 100 beats per minute,” she said, adding that if you sing the Bee Gee’s song “Stayin’ Alive” and press down on the chest to the beat of that song, you’ll get to 100 beats per minute.

If you’ve never been trained in CPR or first aid and haven’t witnessed a cardiac arrest event, you may not know what to look for. According to McCarter, if the victim appears lifeless, meaning they’re unconscious and don’t respond to you tapping or shouting, it could be cardiac arrest and you should call 911.

To be prepared for a cardiac emergency, McCarter said there are several apps for smartphones that can help walk you through CPR, but she stresses that it’s still vital to call 911 immediately.

The American Heart Association and the Red Cross have information and videos on their websites you can use to prepare for a cardiac arrest event. The Jefferson Health – Abington Community Health Department also offers an instructional video, which can be watched below.

“The value of taking a CPR course can never be underestimated,” McCarter said. “There are a variety of classes available, depending on your needs. There are classes for healthcare providers, lay persons with a need to respond, and classes for those who just want to learn CPR.”

For more information or to sign up for any of these classes, visit our classes and events page.

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