Knight Zmijewski: Citizen CPR saves livesWritten by Guest Author | | GuestAuthor@toledofreepress.com
As a CPR educator for Toledo Fire & Rescue (TFD), I provide CPR training to not only Emergency Medical Services personnel and hospital personnel, but also to the general public.
The public is a key component to CPR training. Nothing I or any of my co-workers do will matter if the person who has suffered a cardiac arrest is without circulation for a significant period of time. Irreversible brain damage begins at the four- to six-minute mark of no circulation.
It is imperative for citizens to understand what an important piece they are in this puzzle. At least 88 percent of cardiac arrests take place outside of a hospital setting. This means the average citizen is most likely the first person who can begin to make a difference in the person’s life.
In the event of a cardiac arrest, you as a citizen have to identify the person as unresponsive, call 911 and act. When you call 911, our dispatchers have to receive the call and relay it to crew members, who have to get into their vehicles and drive to your location. Add to that traffic, weather conditions, etc., and four minutes really is not that long. Four minutes is so brief yet so vital to the victim.
For years, CPR involved mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as well as chest compressions. Many people shied away from jumping in to perform CPR on strangers due to the fear of infection via mouth-to-mouth. Others were intimidated by the complexity of the “old” CPR method. Trying to remember the ratio of compressions to breaths, while keeping it effective, is a nerve-racking process. I certainly can understand their fears.
However, the American Heart Association over time has made changes to its CPR protocol and mouth-to-mouth is no longer the standard. Now the theme is “push hard, push fast,” simplifying the procedure to just chest compressions.
We live our lives with our hearts continuously beating. In a sudden cardiac arrest, the heart abruptly stops. The human body is not made to take breaks. It is important to recognize sudden cardiac arrest and begin chest compressions, which allow the heart and brain to continue receiving blood circulation when the heart is no longer pumping.
Studies have shown people who receive chest compressions alone during cardiac arrest have the same survival rate as those who received traditional CPR. Educating citizens makes them more confident in their compression skills, making them eager and able to jump in and begin CPR on someone in a sudden cardiac arrest.
1. Determine if the person is responsive. Tap the victim and shout, “Are you OK?”
2. If there’s no response, call for help. If you are alone, call 911; if not, send someone to call for you.
3. Make sure the person is on their back, on a firm surface. Kneel at the side of the victim.
4. Push hard and push fast. Perform chest compressions with the heel of one hand on the breastbone, between the nipples and the other hand directly on top of that hand. Keep your elbows locked and begin compressions at a depth of two inches.
Save the Beat is one upcoming opportunity for area residents to learn CPR. The event was organized in honor of Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins, inspired by the two civilians who called 911 and performed CPR after he suffered a cardiac arrest while driving last week. The free, two-hour classes, set for Feb. 14 at SeaGate Convention Centre, will cover the basics of CPR as well as automatic defibrillators and the Heimlich maneuver.
I know that I am an educator, a firefighter/paramedic and a nurse. It is my duty to make sure my patients receive high-quality CPR and advanced life support. Outside of this, I am also a mom, daughter, wife, friend and citizen. I can only hope that if I, a family member or friend suffered from a sudden cardiac arrest that someone would be willing to take the initiative to push hard and push fast to save a life. I know I would.
Nicole Knight Zmijewski is a firefighter/paramedic and CPR instructor with Toledo Fire & Rescue and a nurse at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center. Email her at email@example.com to set up a CPR training.