Save a life: Learn CPR

The universal AED sign, developed by the Inter...Today I’m taking a break from my usual satirical rants to talk about something serious.

This week I completed what was probably my 15th CPR certificate renewal class. For the last 30-something years or so, I’ve taken BLS (basic life support) every two years, which includes CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). I have to take this class for my job, but I’d like to think that I would do it anyway.

I took my first CPR class in a Red Cross babysitting class in eighth grade. Back then, CPR was pretty new. There were a lot of rules of how to do it right and the class seemed pretty scary to a 12-year-old. We practiced on Resusi Annie, a life-sized model of a girl, who wore a blue track suit. The story was that Annie had died in a drowning accident, and her parents invented the CPR practice mannequin so people would know how to save drowning victims and prevent further tragedies. I never knew if this story was true, as we didn’t have Wikipedia back then.

Since then, CPR has come a long way. We now practice on mannequins that just have heads and chests – no arms or legs, no track suits. The CPR manual has gone from an inch-thick, technical manual, to 68 pages with color illustrations. The emphasis now is on doing CPR the best you can, and bringing an AED (automated external defibrillator) to the victim as soon as possible. We know now what we didn’t know 40-something years ago, that most cardiac arrest (unless caused by trauma) is caused by a bad heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation, aka v-fib. The AED works by stopping the heart with a shock. When the heart restarts, hopefully it will restart in a normal rhythm. CPR helps keep oxygen circulating in the victim’s body until this happens.

In 2001, AEDs were starting to appear in many public buildings, but were still pretty new. I was a senior in my bachelor of nursing program. My project adviser was a physician on campus who questioned the feasibility of  installing AEDs in campus buildings. She was concerned about safety, liability and cost. For my project, I did an extensive report on why it was a good idea to have AEDs in campus buildings, and explored cost, training, safety and liability issues. She liked my report so much that she asked me to present it to the campus safety committee. The committee took my recommendations and  installed AEDs in campus buildings. There they sat for years, ready to go, but as far as  I know, like most AEDs , were unused. About ten years later, the university president emeritus had a heart attack while speaking at a campus event. Bystanders performed CPR, used the AED and revived him. My mom called me later that day and said “You saved the university president!”

Now AEDs are in most public buildings in the USA, including stadiums, airports, offices, museums, and grocery stores. Have you noticed them? Most of the time they are in a wall case, with a red or green sign like the one above stating  “AED here.” When you remove the AED from the case, an alarm is activated which sends more help, so in no time at all you’ll have other people there to help you with CPR.

What would you do if someone collapsed  at home or in a public building? Would you know how to help?  Save a life – learn CPR.

(Community CPR classes are offered through the Red Cross, hospitals, schools and community centers.)

© Huffygirl 2012

10 thoughts on “Save a life: Learn CPR

  1. I learned CPR many years ago when I was a young mom. I still remember a great deal of it, but I know the technique has changed quite a bit and should find a refresher course to take. Good reminder.

    • Yes, it has changed quite a bit Susan, and is actually easier now. I pointed out to my family that should anything happen to them I would know what to do, but should anything happen to me, they would just stand their and shrug, since neither of them has taken CPR. The guys were nonplussed – “oh well, you’re healthy, you’ll be okay.”

  2. Very interesting info, Huffygirl. I’ve never noticed those signs – I’ll have to start looking for them now that I know what they mean. (I’ve probably been walking past them without “seeing” them, because they meant nothing to me.)

    I wonder what can be done to make people in general aware of all this vital knowledge. (In addition to blog posts!)

    Meanwhile, if you don’t mind, I’d like to post a link on my blog ( directing people to this post – I don’t have a huge number of readers, but everything helps.

    Also I should look into taking a CPR class.

    • That’s fine on the link Sharon – thanks. I kind of take CPR and AEDs for granted since I’ve been exposed to them for years, but maybe there are more people who don’t know about it than I realized. Anything to get the word out.

  3. Pingback: This is important. | A Number of Things

  4. Great post and congrats on saving the president!

    Now that you’ve been learning CPR for so long, you should consider becoming a trainer for your local Red Cross! That too is easier thank you think….

  5. Pingback: Saving Your Pet With CPR (Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation) | cometscorners

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