Be Prepared to Save a Life: Get CPR Certified

Photo Courtesy: Mihajlo Maricic

In an emergency, being able to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can help save a life. CPR is an emergency procedure that consists of chest compressions and often assisted ventilation to maintain the circulation of oxygenated blood if an individual’s heart or breathing stops. Immediately starting CPR and carrying it out until trained medical staff arrives can substantially increase an individual’s chances of survival and improve their overall outcome. Therefore, getting CPR certified could be the best thing you’ve ever done because you never know when you may need this life-saving skill.   

Know the Basic Steps of CPR

Before beginning CPR, you should:

  • Ensure that the environment is safe.
  • Check for responsiveness, breathing, bleeding, or other serious conditions in the individual. 
  • If the individual is unresponsive and is not breathing or having difficulty breathing, immediately call 911 or have someone else do it if you are not alone.
  • Get into the correct position to perform CPR:
    • Place the individual on their back on a firm, flat surface.
    • Kneel next to the individual’s shoulders.
    • Place the heel of one of your hands over the center of the individual’s chest (between their nipples).
    • Place your other hand on top of the one already placed on the individual’s chest.
    • Keep your shoulders directly over your hands and keep your elbows locked.

Next, you should know that there are two versions of CPR: hands-only CPR and conventional CPR. Hands-only CPR, also called compression-only CPR, can be performed by anyone (even if you are not CPR certified). It is performed by providing chest compressions at a constant rate without breathing assistance. 

Hands-Only CPR

To perform hands-only CPR:

  • Follow the procedures listed above and get into the correct position.
  • Using your entire body weight, push straight down on the individual’s chest with a depth of at least 2 inches but no more than 2.4 inches.
  • After each compression, allow the individual’s chest to return to its starting position.
  • Continue compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute (to the beat of the song “Stayin’ Alive”) until help arrives or the individual recovers.

When performing hands-only CPR, it is most important to remember to:

  • Call 911
  • Push hard and fast in the middle of the individual’s chest.

Conventional CPR

Conventional CPR is also sometimes called high-quality CPR. Healthcare providers and trained individuals perform it, but you can do it too. It consists of providing chest compressions and rescue breaths at a 30:2 ratio. 

To perform conventional CPR:

  • Follow the initial procedures listed above and get into the correct position. 
  • Use C-A-B (compressions, airway, breathing) to help remember the steps.
  • Compressions: give 30 chest compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 per minute.
    • Push straight down on the individual’s chest using your entire body weight.
    • Each compression should have a depth of at least 2 inches but no more than 2.4 inches. 
    • Allow the individual’s chest to return to its starting position after each compression.
  • Airway: open the individual’s airway by gently lifting their chin and tilting their head back.
  • Breathing: give two rescue breaths.
    • Create a seal over the individual’s mouth using your mouth or a bag-mask device (if available).
    • Pinch the individual’s nostrils closed.
    • Provide the first rescue breath and observe if the individual’s chest rises.
    • If the individual’s chest rises, provide a second rescue breath.
    • If their chest doesn’t rise, recheck their airway (An object may be blocking it).
    • Each rescue breath should last only 1 second and should not be provided with too much force.
    • Rescue breaths can be provided via the individual’s nose if their mouth is seriously injured. 
  • Repeat C-A-B until help arrives or the individual recovers.  

When performing conventional CPR, it is most important to remember to:

  • Use correct hand placement.
  • Avoid interruptions in chest compressions. 
  • Provide compressions at a sufficient rate and depth.
  • Avoid leaning on the individual in between compressions.
  • Prevent over ventilation. 

Even if you are not trained or certified in CPR, it is always better to do something rather than nothing at all if you find yourself in a situation where an individual needs emergency assistance. If you lack the training or confidence needed to attempt conventional CPR, hands-only CPR should at least be attempted. Remember that taking quick action can save someone’s life!  

How Can I Get CPR Certified?

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If you are now convinced to get CPR certified, there are many options available. Many classes are offered in-person, online, or even in blended formats. Most CPR classes provide the basic information and instruction needed to perform this emergency procedure and can typically be completed in just a few hours.

How Can I Get CPR Certified?

However, some things should be considered when deciding which class is right for you. For example, in-person classes provide hands-on skill training and allow you to ask the instructor questions. In contrast, online courses are usually self-paced and can be completed anywhere. Additionally, some CPR classes may target specific audiences, such as healthcare professionals, and may include more in-depth information and training. Nonetheless, various online search tools, such as the ones supported by the American Red Cross and American Heart Association, can be used to find reputable CPR certification classes near you. 

Beyond CPR: Basic Life Support (BLS) Training

Basic life support (BLS) consists of a set of emergency procedures that can be performed on an individual experiencing cardiac or respiratory distress. In addition to high-quality CPR, BLS training covers how to use an automated external defibrillator and remove airway obstructions in individuals of all ages. 

However, BLS training extends beyond the physical skills needed to perform these emergency procedures and teaches critical thinking and problem-solving skills. It is required for first-responders and healthcare and public safety professionals, but anyone can get BLS certified. Because BLS certification requires more in-depth training and you must demonstrate competency in executing certain emergency procedures, classes are usually offered in person or a blended format. If you think you want to get BLS certified, the same online search tools mentioned above can be used to find classes offered in your area.

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