Friday, November 6, 2009

CPR & the Heimlich maneuver

Because I will be a health care professional, as a requirement for my program I have to be certified in CPR. I was so excited about this because it sounds so interesting; we learned both CPR & the Heimlich maneuver (using abdominal thrusts to relieve choking).

So, about a month or so ago, some classmates and I took the course. And it was every bit as interesting as I thought!

In case you don't know, CPR--cardiopulmonary resuscitation--uses breathing and chest compression techniques to victims who may be in 'cardiac arrest.' Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops pumping. Your body, ESPECIALLY your brain, can't survive without oxygen, which is located in the blood. If the heart stops pumping the oxygen in your blood can't get to your brain and other organs. As a result, with severe oxygen loss, if you don't die, you will surely suffer brain and organ damage.

I'm sure you see how dangerous this can be! Without the pumping heart, there's no life!

So, now that the logistics are out the way, some interesting highlights:

  • CPR IS VERY VIOLENT!!! Not that I'm trying to scare you but whoa! I never realized that saving someone's life was so invasive. I learned that it's not uncommon for the victim's ribs to be cracked in the process. (Please don't be scared, CPR can be useful when done correctly)

  • CPR victim's have been known to sue the people who saved their lives using CPR! They generally sue for cracked ribs! I don't intend to judge everyone because I really need all the facts but gosh! Which would you prefer: a cracked rib, er, uh, DEATH???!!!!! (Those licensed, like myself, are exempt from such suits)

  • These days health care professionals may not breath into the victim without a mouth barrier due to the risk of so many diseases, such as tuberculosis and HIV.

  • CPR can be used on babies!!! Instead of using two hands and your palm, you only use 2 fingers and you don't press down as hard.

But the most interesting thing about CPR is the AED. The AED--automated external defibrillator--is, in a nutshell, a machine that uses electricity to restore the heart's pumping. Basically, it's the machine you see on TV that people hold in both hands and yell, 'CLEAR!' It's an amazing machine. We were able to practice with a test machine.

Learning CPR made me see how TV glamorizes both CPR & the Heimlich maneuver. There's so much you have to remember for an infant, child and adult. It's simple to do in a low-stress learning environment but when death is in your face you have to remember all the steps, along with the details and perform them in the proper order.

It's a very serious event that I hope I NEVER encounter.

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