Having CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillator) skills are one of the best ways that you can be prepared to save lives! It’s a scary thought, but most people who go into cardiac arrest without receiving CPR don’t make it. However, with this knowledge, you’ll be able to make the worst outcomes far less likely!
Hi everyone — Cole here. I actually asked my good friend Phoebe to write this article since she’s medically trained and CPR/AED ceritfied. Plus, she runs howmedworks.com, has a degree in biology, and extensive tutoring experience, so I though she’d be the perfect person to explain this useful topic to you!
Also, here’s an advanced medical tip… If you or a victim suspects symptoms of a heart attack, chew and swallow an asprin — this will thin your blood and slow down clotting, delaying the heart attack’s onset! Chewing is the key here, as that gets the asprin into the blood stream faster.
So, in this article you’ll not only be learning fundamental CPR and AED skills — we’ll also be covering vital biology knowledge as well! If you’re wanting to go into the medical field, this is a great way for you to get your feet wet and learn how lifesaving methods affect the human body. 🙂
Stay until the end to learn what my instructor taught me, which includes info you won’t find just anywhere. At the end of this article, I’ll also be giving more details about academic tutoring if you’re looking to ace that biology class or your AP Biology Exam! Just be sure to ask a parent first. (maybe cut)
The Purpose of CPR
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation with “cardio-” meaning “heart” and “pulmo-” referring to lungs. When you think about it, this name makes a lot of sense since CPR is an emergency procedure used when someone’s heart and lungs stop working.
|What Does Our Heart Do?||What Do Our Lungs Do?|
|Our heart pumps oxygen-rich blood to all of our organs to keep everything working.||Lungs infuse our blood with the oxygen that we breathe in.|
Ultimately when you perform CPR, you’re taking over the victim’s heart and lung functions by doing chest compressions and rescue breaths. Now, are you starting to understand why learning the science behind this is so important? (and interesting!) 😀
Fact: The longest successful CPR lasted more than 6 hours. The victim suffered from severe hypothermia and cardiac arrest. This just goes to show how effective CPR is at saving people who otherwise wouldn’t have made it!
How CPR Works
First up is heart function, which is managed with chest compressions. When you repeatedly press on the heart, you create “heartbeats” so blood can continue to circulate and deliver oxygen to organs. This is crucial because every organ in the human body needs oxygen to function.
The second part of CPR is lung function, which is covered by rescue breaths. Giving rescue breaths is you breathing for the victim since they can’t breathe on their own. By blowing air into their lungs, you’re giving them an oxygen supply.
Fact: Did you know that brain can only go a few minutes without oxygen until permanent damage begins to occur? However, studies show that deep chest compressions improve blood flow to the brain, significantly delaying the onset of damage!
It’s important to note that while CPR may not “revive” a victim, it’ll help improve their outcome. Your goal is to provide emergency first aid while medics are still away. By keeping oxygen moving throughout the victim’s body, you’re preventing organs from sustaining excess damage.
Remember, you’ll have a much better chance of saving someone’s life and minimizing permanent damage if you’re able to give high-quality CPR. By truly understanding what you’re doing each step, you’ll be better prepared should a situation ever arise.
Warning Signs That CPR May Be Needed:
- The victim suddenly collapsed
- They are unconcious
- There’s no pulse
- They’re not breathing or only taking short, gasping breaths
- They’ve been electrocuted and are unresponsive
- If this is the case, make sure all power is off and that the area is 100% safe before approaching.
Before Starting CPR:
- Make sure the surroundings are safe.
- Firmly shake the victim’s shoulder and shout, “Hey, hey, are you okay?”
- Have a bystander call 911 and find an AED.
- With the victim lying on their back, tilt back their head and lift up their chin.
- Check for a pulse, bring your ear just over their mouth, and feel/listen for breathing.
- Gasping sounds do NOT count. Remove anything you see stuck in their throat. This check should be quick.
- If there is no pulse and no breathing, begin CPR.
When Performing CPR:
- Position your hands: Place the heel of one hand at the bottom of their breastbone, just between and below the nipples, and place your other hand on top (it may help to clasp your top hand’s fingers between the fingers of your bottom hand). Keep your elbows straight and lean over the victim so your shoulders are directly above your hands.
- Perform 30 chest compressions: Use your body weight to push hard and fast. Chest compressions should be 2 inches deep and at a rate of 100 compressions per minute. A good rule of thumb is to think of the song, Oh! Oh! Oh Oh! Stayin alive, stayin alive. Here’s a link if you don’t know the song lol.
- Give two rescue breaths. Tilt back the person’s head and lift up their chin. Pinch their nose shut and place your mouth over their mouth to form a seal. Blow into the person’s mouth so their chest rises. If their chest doesn’t rise, re-tilt their head and deliver another rescue breath. If their chest still doesn’t rise, check if they’re choking and remove the object if there is one.
- Continue until help arrives: Repeat the last 2 steps of 30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths until medical personnel arrive. If they throw up, turn them on their side and lift their chin. Cracking ribs is common when performing proper CPR. If this occurs, keep going! Broken bones can heal but you only have 1 chance to save a life.
When giving rescue breaths, you should try to use a CPR face shield to decrease the transfer of germs or fluids. I’d recommend checking out this face shield on Amazon. You get six of them in tiny keychain pouches so you can easily have one with you at all times. 🙂
If you’re more of a visual learner, I’d highly recommend watching this helpful video (1:56) on how to perform CPR:
Child and Baby CPR
The steps for child and baby CPR are very similar to those for adult CPR. However, there are a couple of differences you should familiarize yourself with since infants, especially, are more fragile:
- For infants, it’s recommended you flick the bottom of their foot to check if they need help.
- For infant chest compressions, you’ll want to use two fingers (instead of two hands) and deliver compressions about 1.5 inches deep (shallower than for adult CPR).
Here’s a great video demonstration (1:59) on infant CPR:
For more detailed, step-by-step instructions on child and baby CPR, I’d recommend taking a look at the following article by the American Red Cross. Afterward, you’ll have the skills to give anyone CPR — no matter their age!
How to Use an AED
An AED is a type of defibrillator used to restore someone’s heart to its normal rhythm by releasing a quick electrical pulse. Fortunately, AEDs are quite simple to use. Simply follow the instructions on the container and attach the pads to the chest of the victim.
If you’re in a building, chances are that an AED will be available. Remember that it’s best to have a bystander find one while you start chest compressions in order to not delay care. Once the bystander brings an AED, turn it on and follow its instructions.
An AED should be used after someone presents with a weak, irregular, or nonexistent heartbeat. After the AED determines whether or not to deliver a shock, begin chest compressions. I’d suggest watching the following video (4:47) to see an AED in action:
CPR/AED Tips to Keep in Mind
- It’s crucial that you act immediately. Even minor delays in providing CPR can significantly affect the outcome.
- The most common mistake in CPR is not performing deep enough compressions. Remember, a broken rib beats the alternative, so push hard.
- CPR can get tiring quickly. Exhaustion compromises your ability to give high-quality CPR so, if possible, alternate turns with someone else who’s trained.
- Keeping your elbows locked can help you to perform CPR for much longer periods of time without getting as tired.
Common Questions About CPR/AED
Here are some questions that often come up regarding CPR/AED. Take a look to see if you know all the answers and are able to explain them to someone else!
|Why doesn’t gasping count as breathing?||Gasping due to cardiac arrest or stroke is called agonal breathing. It’s a natural reflex when the brain is not getting enough oxygen and the person is near death. Agonal breathing is not true breathing.|
|Should I perform CPR on someone who’s having a heart attack?||No. A heart attack is when blood flow to the heart is blocked but the heart continues to beat. The person should still be conscious and breathing so call 911 and monitor. If the heart attack progresses to cardiac arrest (heart stops beating), then use an AED and start CPR protocol.|
|Do I have to give rescue breaths if I don’t have a CPR face shield?||You do not have to give rescue breaths if you don’t have a face shield. There are studies suggesting that chest compressions alone may be sufficient.|
|Do I need to use an AED if I do chest compressions?||If there’s an AED available, use it. Chest compressions help move blood throughout the body, but the benefits stop the moment you do. On the other hand, an AED delivers electric shocks that can potentially restart the heart, allowing it to beat and work again on its own.|
|Are AEDs safe to use on a child or infant?||Yes! You should use pediatric pads if available. Depending on the size of the child or infant, you may need to put one pad in the center of the chest and one in the center of the upper back to prevent the pads from touching. For more information, check out this article.|
|What happens if I perform CPR and unintentionally cause harm?||Every state has a Good Samaritan law, which provides legal protection to those who volunteer aid in emergency situations. You may want to research the specifics for your particular state.|
Finally, there are many CPR/AED courses from nationally accredited organizations. For more info on training and certification, check out this page. You may not need CPR and AED certification to immediately advance in Scouting, but it’s a great skill to have in your back pocket. Good luck!
I hope you enjoyed this deeper dive into CPR and AED use! I really love sharing my love of biology with others, so if you’re hoping to major in bio or need remote tutoring for a biology class, don’t hesitate to reach out to Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A bit more about me: I graduated from UC San Diego with a major in Human Bio and minor in Bioethics. Afterward, I worked as a doctor’s assistant at Stanford Medicine. I’ve been tutoring online for several years, and have a proven track record of helping students to master bio and achieve A+ grades!
Thanks for reading my first article! Seriously don’t hesitate to message “Interested in Bio Tutoring” to Cole if you’re serious about getting a great understanding of biology. Hope this article helped you to master CPR and AED skills, and am wishing you all the best! 🙂