Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) combines rescue breathing with chest compressions to circulate oxygen around the body while waiting for further emergency help.
CPR does not normally restart a person’s heart but when it is combined with early emergency help, early defibrillation (whereby a brief electric shock is given to the heart), and early advanced hospital care, it has saved many lives. Ribs may be broken during CPR but this is preferable to dying.
After providing the initial rescue breathing, you need to check the circulation to see if the heart is effectively pumping blood, and therefore oxygen, around the body. Look, listen, and feel for breathing, coughing, movement, normal color or any other sign of life for not more than 10 seconds. If there are no signs of circulation, or you are at all unsure, start chest compressions. These must be given with the victim lying on his back on a firm surface.
ABC OR RESUSCITATION
Airway Use head tilt and chin lift to keep the airway open while provide rescue breathing.
Breathing Provide rescue breathing to somebody who is not breathing.
Circulation Check for signs of circulation and combine rescue breathing with chest compressions if you think the heart has stopped beating.
1. With your lower hand, locate one of the bottom ribs. Slide the fingers of one hand along the rib to the point where the rib meets the breastbone. Place one finger at this point and the finger next to it above it on the breastbone. Place the heel of your other hand on the breastbone and slide it down until it reaches your index finger. This is the point at which you should apply pressure.
2. Place the heel of your first hand on top of the other hand and interlock your fingers. Lean well over the victim and, with your arms straight, press down vertically and depress the breastbone one-third of the depth of the chest, which on an adult is 1 ½- 2 inches.
3. Release the pressure without losing contact between your hands and the breastbone. Compress the chest 15 times, at a rate of 100 compressions per minute. Compression and release should take an equal amount of time.
COMBINING CHEST COMPRESSIONS WITH RESCUE BREATHS
Chest compressions circulate blood to the vital organs such as the brain. To ensure that this blood contains oxygen, you need to combine chest compressions with rescue breaths.
After 15 compressions, tilt the head, lift the chin, and give 2 effective breaths. Continue until:
• Emergency help arrives.
• The victim shows signs of circulation.
• You become so exhausted you cannot carry on.
IF THE VICTIM VOMITS
The combination of being unconscious with no muscle tone to hold in the stomach contents, air possibly being blown into the stomach through rescue breathing, and compressing the chest may result in the victim being sick. He or she will often have lost the reflex that causes gagging so the vomit may stay at the back of the throat or come into the mouth. This must be cleared promptly:
• Roll the person toward you, supporting the head.
• Open the mouth and sweep out any vomit with two fingers.
• Turn the person onto his back and start the ABC process again.
You may wish to use a face shield when providing rescue breathing, but not having one should not stop you performing CPR. You can also give breaths through a handkerchief.