Today we begin a new weekly First Aid column about what people should do in the event of an emergency. DD First Aid will deal with a different topic each week and give practical advice as to what to do when faced with an emergency.
The column is brought to you by First Aid specialist Aiden Thompson of Donegal Safety Training Solutions.
The first column will deal with how to do ‘hands only’ CPR.
Did you know that 13 people will die from out of hospital cardiac arrest every day in Ireland and that 90% of people who attempt to do CPR do it to one of their own family members first? While the chances of having to do CPR may appear slim in everyday life, knowing how to do CPR really can save a life.
So when should we start CPR?
We should start CPR if or when a casualty becomes unconscious, stops breathing normally and shows no signs of life. This person is now in Cardiac Arrest and the sooner we start CPR, the better their chances of survival become.
However, some people are not comfortable with giving ventilations when doing CPR or may be restricted in giving ventilations by a lack of protective barrier device, injuries that preclude giving ventilations or because of Covid 19 and the risk to their health. But we can still help!
How do we do “Hands Only” CPR?
In every first aid situation, remaining safe is always your number one priority. If we recognise a casualty is in cardiac arrest, we must complete the chain of survival.
- We begin by calling for help first by dialling 999/112 or sending someone else for help and asking for a defibrillator. Place the phone on loud speaker so the operator can talk you through the procedure in the correct order.
- You will be asked to check for signs of life, is the casualty breathing normally, moving? If the answer is yes, we do not need to start CPR. If, however, the answer is no, the operator will ask you to begin “Hands Only” CPR as soon as you can.
- Place your hands on the centre of the casualty’s chest and push the breastbone down one and a half to two inches for an adult or child. Push at a rate of 100-120 compressions per minute. The operator will continuously count to four for you at the correct pace and ask you to repeat this aloud so they can hear you doing CPR. You will do compressions only and not stop to attempt breathing into the casualty’s mouth. This is hands only CPR!
- Once the emergency services arrive, they will take control of the scene and may direct you to assist or give information to them about who the casualty is or what happened to them prior to their arrival. The emergency services will then transport the casualty to the hospital and hand the casualty over to the awaiting resuscitation team. This completes the chain of survival.
When doing CPR we continue to push hard and fast until one of the following circumstances arise
- The defibrillator arrives and the operator is ready to attach the defibrillator pads onto the casualty’s chest. Keep doing compressions until you are told to stop.
- The emergency services arrive and are ready to take over from you. It takes time for the emergency staff to get their equipment ready so keep going until you are told to stop.
- The casualty shows signs of life, they move or breathe. Tell the operator if this happens and follow their advice.
- A safe scene becomes unsafe. We must not stay in an unsafe area. Get out and if possible, get the casualty out too.
Remember, we can not do CPR on a soft surface like a bed mattress. We are only pushing the casualty onto the bed springs, so we must place the casualty on the floor and start CPR. We may also feel ribs break during CPR, we must keep going, if the casualty complains to you in a few days’ time that they are still sore, you’ve done a great job!
Aiden Thompson is a PHECC registered paramedic and former Search And Rescue winchman with the Irish Coastguard helicopter, R118, based in Sligo. As a PHECC registered first aid instructor and an Irish Heart Foundation training site coordinator Aiden delivers the highest standard of training to members of the public.
If you would like any further information on courses available in your area, please contact Aiden on 0863111661 or visit his website www.dsts.ie for further details.
In next weeks column we will discuss the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and what we can do for our casualty.