Monday, June 13, 2011
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Hands-on Home Safety Day includes training in basic CPR

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[June 13, 2011]  Saturday morning a huge part of the purpose behind having a Hands-on Home Safety Day was teaching interested parties the basic techniques of CPR.

Three sessions were scheduled to take place throughout the day in the training room at the Logan County Paramedic Association building. The training was offered by paramedics Rob Cummings and Henry Brondyke.

Years ago, CPR classes were taught to include incorporating chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. A person would compress the chest a certain number of times, then do mouth-to-mouth.

In the program provided Saturday, instructor Cummings said that today there have been some basic changes to CPR, in that it primarily includes only chest compressions.

The training Saturday morning began with a video scene where a couple is attending a sporting activity. Suddenly the man collapses to the ground, unconscious.

It begs the question, if this happened to someone you know or love, would you know what to do?

Cummings said that one of the most important things is to stay calm and become a multitasker.

Assess the person who has fallen. Are they responsive? Can they speak? Are they breathing? Remove clothing barriers and assess the chest area. Watch for a rise and fall in the chest. Do they have a pulse? Find this out by placing a finger on the carotid artery on the right side of the person.

Next, call for someone to obtain an AED machine if one is available, call for someone to phone 911, and begin chest compressions.

Cummings said that doing a proper chest compression is not an easy task. When doing compressions, the chest needs to depress 2 inches with each compression, and compressions should be done at a rate of 100 pushes per minute.

The key, he said, is to do the compressions hard and fast.

Cummings said that depending on the size of the person, this task will vary in difficulty. A thinner or more physically fit person will be much easier to do the compression on than if the person is heavier.

He also noted that in most cases, the person doing the compressions will completely wear out within a period of two minutes, so soliciting help when possible is important.

Cummings also shared that there is an easy way to make sure that compressions are being done at the correct rate, and it is with a song.

As odd as it may sound, the song "Stayin' Alive" in its original version by the Bee Gees has a beat of 100 times per minute.

Cummings said that studies with the music have been done, and it has been proven that not only are compressions done at the proper rate, but also when using this song, the person administering the compressions can actually stay at it long past the typical two minutes.

As the class progressed Saturday morning, students were given busts to practice their compressions. The "Stayin' Alive" song was played, and everyone in the room was able to find the rhythm and perform the task for the full two minutes.

Cummings was asked if it is true that most times a victim will suffer broken bones during chest compressions, and he said that yes, it does happen a lot. Compressions against the breast bone can cause a break, but he qualified that such an injury was still much better than death, and the breast bone will heal.

Cummings also talked briefly about the Good Samaritan Law in Illinois that holds folks blameless if they attempt to resuscitate an unconscious person. He said that in Illinois, anyone who administers CPR to an unresponsive person is held harmless in the outcome.

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He also noted that when working alone, if it comes to the point that one can no longer do the compressions, it is OK for them to stop.

He explained: "You're doing this and your arms are hurting, you start having your own chest pains -- you then have reached a point where you can't go on. You need to stop, and it's OK. You've done all you were able to do."

In today's world of portable technology, automated external defibrillators, known as AEDs, are available for use in many public locations.

When administering CPR, among the first steps is to call for someone to go find out if there is an AED available.

Using these machines is not as difficult as one would think, and because of that, no one should be intimidated by it.

Brondyke took over the class and walked everyone through the use of an AED.

First of all, the machines are equipped with audio instructions to assist the person using it.

Brondyke said that a big part of getting the desired effect is to get good contact on the skin with the patches that are used to administer the shock.

He said if the victim has a lot of hair on the chest area, there may be a need to deal with that first. He cited two means of doing this.

The quickest method if the machine has multiple sets of patches is to peel the paper off the sticky side and use it more or less like wax. Apply it to the area, and then quickly rip it off. Doing this, much of the hair on the chest should come off with the patch.

If this is not an option, look for a disposable razor in the AED box and quickly shave the area where the patch will be placed. If this is not available, do the best you can to get good contact with the skin.

Once the patch is on, the machine will analyze the victim and advise if shock is needed. If needed, the machine will warn the person running it to clear their hands and body away from the victim, then it will administer the shock, and once that is done, will tell the helper to resume CPR.

The machine runs in two-minute cycles and at the end of each cycle will once again tell the helper what to do.

Along with offering instruction on adult CPR and the use of AEDs, the pair of trainers also walked through administering CPR to infants and children, how to position the head to clear an airway, and how to perform the Heimlich maneuver on choking victims.

As the class came to a close, perhaps some of the most important words of encouragement came from Brondyke when he told the class to remember that when someone has stopped breathing and has no pulse, they have basically died.

"Don't be afraid of hurting them. They aren't going to know if you're hurting them," he said, "but they are going to know if you save their lives."


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