IMAGINE this. You are having dinner with your loved ones and suddenly your mother complain of chest pains and before you knew it, she collapses and stops breathing. You become panic and start calling for help. If only you knew Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), you would have saved her life.
CPR is a combination of rescue breathing (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation) and chest compressions. If someone isn't breathing or if the blood is not circulating adequately, CPR can restore circulation of oxygen-rich blood to the brain. Without oxygen, permanent brain damage or death can occur in less than eight minutes and defibrillation occurs during that time. It’s a simple procedure, and yet many do not know how to perform CPR.
There is a critical need for at least one family member to be a trained first aider. More lives can be saved if family members have some basic first aid and CPR knowledge. They should learn how to conduct first-aid and CPR and be prepared for any emergency situation while waiting for help to come. Imagine saving a person’s life by performing a simple medical procedure that we can easily learn. Learning the correct technique and administering it as quickly as possible will give their loved ones a chance of recovery.
CPR may be necessary during emergencies such as heart attack , accidents, near-drowning, suffocation, poisoning, smoke inhalation, electrocution injuries, and suspected sudden infant death syndrome (Sids)
CPR is recognised worldwide as a first aid procedure that can increase a person’s chances of survival while waiting for proper medical assistance.
The procedure involves a combination of chest compression and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation that keeps oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs until medical treatment can restore a normal heart rhythm.
Many Malaysians have no idea on how to administer CPR. There are documented cases of lives being saved by CPR. If CPR is started within four minutes after a person collapses, he or she has a 40 per cent chance of survival. The brain is the most sensitive part of the body. When the heart stops functioning, the victim lose consciousness due to lack of oxygen. The victim’s brain may survive without oxygen for 10 minutes, and this is why it is important to start resuscitation as soon as possible after breathing or the heart has stopped, whatever the cause so that the brain may not suffer permanent damage. Administering CPR and getting the blood to start pumping through his or her heart and brain may prevent brain damage and save the victim's life.
The problem of cardiac arrest, which happens when the heart stops pumping blood, can be caused by a heart attack, drowning, electric shock and other problems. About 80 per cent of these tragedies happen at home. Medical assistance may only arrive minutes or hours later, thus it is crucial that CPR is performed to increase the victim’s chances of survival. Without help, the victim’s chances decrease by 10 per cent each minute. Less than seven per cent of cardiac arrest victims survive before reaching hospital because the vast majority of those witnessing the cardiac arrest do not know how to perform a CPR.
International and local research has shown that most people do not know how to perform CPR. More shockingly, 45 per cent of physicians and 80 per cent of nurses are unwilling to perform it for various reasons, including the fear of doing it wrongly, distaste for the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and fear of contracting disease from the victim.
In Malaysia, a study done in 2005 on first aid and CPR among health personnel revealed that even among trained healthcare workers, only 50 per cent are confident they can perform the CPR.
Three simple steps that can save a person's life is as simple and as easy as ABC.
Follow these basic steps and remember to call for emergency medical assistance before doing the CPR and it could save the life of the person who has collapsed
A is for Airway. Tilt the head to open the airway and lift the chin as this moves the tongue from the back of the throat. The tongue is the most common airway obstruction in an unconscious person. If he can breathe on his own, then it's important to clear the airway. Look, listen and feel for a faint indication that your victim is breathing.
B is for Breathing. Give the victim two breaths. Pinch the victim's nose, put your lips over the other person's lips and blow until you see the chest rise. Make sure you blow just enough to see the chest rise.
C is for Compression. Find the carotid artery to the side of the Adam's apple area and feel for five or 10 seconds. If there is no pulse, begin chest compressions.
Feel around in the chest area. If there is no thumping under your fingers within three seconds, span, begin chest compressions. Locate the base of the sternum - the spot where all the ribs come together in the centre of the chest. Place the heel of your hand in the middle of the victim's chest. Put the other hand on top of the first with fingers interlaced, lock elbows and compress the victim's chest, using your body weight, to the necessary depth of 4-5cm (2 in.) deep. Compress the chest at a rate equal to 100/minute. Perform 15 compressions at this rate.
Count aloud as you compress 15 times. Give the victim two breaths. That's cycle No. 1. Repeat for a total of five cycles - about one minute in elapsed time.
Check again in the neck for a pulse and watch for signs that the person is breathing. Keep going until help arrives.
However the new guidelines of the American Heart Association 2010 emphasised compression first. Instead of ABC it is now CAB except for babies. If you are not trained in CPR, continue to do chest compressions until help arrives or the victim wakes up. It's normal to feel pops and snaps when you first begin chest compressions - DON'T STOP! You're not going to make the victim worse.
If you want to know more about what to do in case of an emergency, The Heart Foundation of Malaysia CPR course can HELP YOU . With the rightful knowledge and skills you learn in this course, you can save a life of a loved one, a friend, a co-worker, or a citizen in your community.
You may also visit the National Heart Association of Malaysia (NHAM), a drive to teach the easy to learn life-saving skill to the general public through its Public CPR Education Programme, themed with "Give the Gift of Life, Today". The programme that was developed in response to international and local research that has shown that most people do not know how to perform CPR.