EDITORIAL: Learn CPR/First Aid, it could save a life

January 29, 2014   ·   0 Comments

Learning CPR could save a life. Heck, it could even save my life, and that’s why I had my three children certified last weekend.

Sunday afternoon, Mia, owner of Life Beats  First Aid in Alliston, came to our home with her dummies. Spread out on the living room floor, we learned how to keep ‘the blood pumping’ and the ‘oxygen flowing’ until help could arrive.

My kids, who have never taken such a course before, were completely surprised at how well they did learning what is, essentially, a very basic technique that could be the difference between life and death for themselves, someone they know, or even a stranger.

Since the last time I took a CPR course, things have changed dramatically. The basic principles have been simplified and everyone – from newborn to senior – gets the same amount of breaths and chest depressions. Two and 30 respectively. The pressure is one of the only differences (two fingers for newborns, one hand for eight year olds and younger and two hands for adults – 9 and up). Also the depth of each compression varies.

Mia’s dummies, a new age model, light up to tell you when you’re doing it right  – or, achieving the right depth of pressure. Mia herself told us when we weren’t being consistent enough with our compressions, and at the end, we all felt confident with what we’d learned. Hopefully, we’ll never need to use those new found skills.

From her entire presentation I will always remember these basic rules: CPR is only for dead people – if they aren’t breathing, they’re technically dead. Always check for breathing (even soft breathing) before you start. Next, people need oxygen to circulate through their body (especially to the brain) or their internal organs will start to look like “mushy bananas” very quickly. You must continue doing CPR until help arrives. It isn’t easy either. CPR is very physically demanding, so switch with a partner who knows the technique every two minutes if you can. And most importantly, don’t forget to call 911 before you start. Keep them on speaker phone and let them come to you.

We then went on to learn about choking. That’s when we all turned a little bit white ourselves from fright. Choking is a scary thing, and it happens all the time. When it comes to how to help someone who’s choking, the rules again haven’t changed very much. If they can talk, or cough, leave them alone. If they can’t make any sounds, or if they’re turning blue or gray, they need immediate assistance. Most people who are choking lose consciousness within the first minute, so helping them while they’re still standing is important – and it’s easier.

The procedure involves five blows in an upward motion to the top of the back followed by the Heimlich Maneuver – a technique that must be demonstrated to learn correctly, however if ever in a pinch remember to make a fist (thumb inward towards the victims stomach area, under the rib cage) and clasp the other hand over it. Use ‘in and up’ motions to force the air out of the lungs, and hopefully whatever is lodged in the airway along with it.

We also learned that if a person does pass out, to start doing CPR on them immediately, using the proper technique.

If you are choking and alone, you can do the Heimlich Maneuver on yourself. Remember to cal 911 first and then go and stand out on our porch. When emergency workers arrive, they won’t need to secure the premises first in order to help you. You can also throw yourself over the arm of a chair – or anything to force the air up, and out of your lungs.

Using state of the art vests, we were able to practice the Heimlich Maneuver on each other, seeing how quickly we could get the styrofoam peanut to pop out of the make-shift esophagus. By the end of Mia’s demonstration, the kids were quite proficient at this. Again, I hope they never need to use it, but this is a must-have skill.

To keep from choking, always cut your meat (especially hot dogs) into small pieces before serving, if whole. Round foods, such as candies, will also perfectly block your esophagus, preventing air from reaching your lungs, so chew them well before swallowing.

There is MUCH, MUCH more than this to learn about emergency First Aid and CPR. This account in is no way intended to prepare you for a real life situation – I simply wanted to share my weekend experience with our readers. Taking a First Aid/CPR course could save a life. I encourage all of our readers to take a course, refresh their skills and keep up-to-date with the latest techniques.

As Mia said, most of the people who she teaches need to use the skills she’s taught them within 6 months of learning them – or never at all. If you fit into the first category, you’ll be glad to have the confidence that a course can provide. It might also earn you a pass through the Pearly Gates.

To book a course, call Mia at Life beats First Aid in Alliston at 705 250–LIFE (5433), or another organization that offers certification courses.

By Wendy Gabrek




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