Wed, 25 Sep 2002

Learning CPR and help your loved ones

Donya Betancourt, Pediatrician,

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, involves a combination of mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing and chest compression techniques that keeps oxygenated blood flowing to the brain and other vital organs until appropriate medical treatment can restore a normal heart rhythm.

I am hoping that this three part series will help you when and if the need for emergency action occurs however it is near impossible to teach CPR without hands on practice and training so please take the time to find a facilitator who can give you this vital information.

* Breathing

Mouth-to-mouth rescue breathing is the quickest way to get oxygen into a child's lungs.

1. Chest compression. Chest compressions (This is the pressing motion that is made on the chest) replaces the heartbeat when it has stopped.

Compressions help maintain some blood flow to the brain, lungs and heart. You must perform rescue breathing anytime you perform chest compressions.

2. Before starting CPR, assess the situation:

* Is the person conscious or unconscious?

* If the person appears unconscious, tap or shake his or her shoulder and ask loudly, "Are you OK?"

* If the person doesn't respond, follow the steps below and get help by calling for emergency medical assistance. If you can't leave the scene, have someone else call.

* To perform CPR

1. Position the person so you can check for breathing and a pulse by laying the person flat on a firm surface and extending the neck.

2. Open the person's mouth and airway by lifting the chin forward.

3. Determine whether the person is breathing by leaning your head next to the victims open mouth and simultaneously listening for breath sounds, feeling for air motion on your cheek and ear, and looking for chest motion.

4. If the child is not breathing, pinch his or her nostrils closed, and begin mouth to mouth resuscitation. You can do this by making a seal around the child's mouth with your own mouth, then breathe into the mouth twice.

Give one breath every five seconds. After each breath completely refill your lungs before giving another breath to your victim.

5. To check for the pulse place you finger on the neck either side will have a large vein that will pulsate (beat) if the heart is still pumping blood to the brain. If there is no pulse, begin chest compressions to do this you must lace your hands over the lower part of the breastbone, (interlock the fingers) keep your elbows straight and position your shoulders directly above your hands to make the best use of your weight. This is a very serious situation so it is best to stay calm and proceed with the CPR in a step by step procedure. Especially when working with children remember too much weight during compression can break a rib as well as get the heart beating.

To perform CPR on a baby

* Cover the mouth and nose with your mouth.

* Give one breath for every five chest compressions.

* Compress the chest 1/2 to 1 inch at least 100 times a minute, using only two fingers.

The above is just a brief description of CPR. To learn CPR and take a first-aid training course is a very good idea because you never know when you may need the skills to help in an emergency situation and when time is of the essence.

CPR for children is almost similar to performing for adults. There are, however, four differences.

* If you are alone with the child give one minute of CPR before calling for help.

* Use the heel of one hand for chest compressions

* Press the sternum down 1 to 1.5 inches

* Give a full breath followed by five chest compressions

The peace of mind that a few hours of learning can give you for a lifetime is well worth the investment. Find a facility that can teach you CPR and protect your family and loved ones today.