ALSTAR EMS Encourages Public To Learn Hands-Only CPR

Although CPR is widely seen as a simple, yet effective means to save a life, many people are often confused – or downright afraid – to administer it when the moment of truth arrives.

According to the American Heart Association, 70 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur at home, but only about half get the immediate help they need before professional help arrives.

CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, when performed in the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival.

In this respect, ensuring the public is familiar with the latest techniques of CPR is not only crucial, but a matter of life and death.

Phil Wilson, clinical operations manager with ALSTAR EMS, said the AHA comes out with new, recommended guidelines for CPR every five years based on new findings and evidence.

Highlights of the latest changes in 2015 are the following:

EMPHASIS ON CHEST COMPRESSIONS

The AHA indicates that “hands-only” CPR – or simply doing chest compressions – is not only easy for an untrained bystander, it can be sufficient enough to save a life.

While performing two rescue breaths to every 30 compressions is still recommended, it’s no longer a requirement.

According to the AHA, survival rates between those who receive “hands-only” CPR and those who receive both chest compressions and rescue breaths are relatively similar.

Wilson added that “hands-only” CPR can also be easier for those who may feel uncomfortable about performing mouth-to-mouth.

“With ‘hands-only’ CPR, people can still react and do something positive without putting themselves at risk,” he said.

The AHA recommends rescuers continue chest compressions on those suffering from cardiac arrest until professionals respond with an automated external defibrillator, or AED.

CHEST COMPRESSION RATE

For adult victims, rescuers should perform chest compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 per minute.

This differs from previous guidelines which did not have an upper threshold.

“In 2010, there was an emphasis on ‘push hard and push fast’ which continues … but now there’s a top limit,” Wilson said. “If you pump too hard and too fast, the heart doesn’t have time to fill … so efficiency of blood flow circulation actually decreases.”

CHEST COMPRESSION

DEPTH AND RECOIL

Rescuers should perform chest compressions to a depth of at least 2 inches and no more than 2.4 inches.

Again, this differs from previous guidelines which did not have an upper threshold.

While judging the depth of a compression can be difficult, Wilson said the purpose of the threshold is to avoid possible injuries to the victim by pushing too hard.

The AHA also recommends that rescuers avoid leaning on the chest to allow the chest wall to fully recoil.

OUTREACH

Wilson said efforts are being made nationwide and locally to make CPR more accessible to the general public.

“We have plenty of calls where bystanders are performing CPR, but there’s also plenty where people are not … so I think there’s opportunity to improve in our community,” Wilson said. “We want to encourage people to do ‘hands-only’ CPR. It doesn’t take hours to learn.”

Wilson said businesses or those organizing large events can contact the ALSTAR EMS Training Center or WCA Hospital to set up a quick hands-only CPR training class.

“You’re not getting a card or a half-hour worth of stuff … you just come over, react to an unresponsive person or mannequin and learn where to push hard and push fast on the chest because that’s what counts,” Wilson said. “If we can get that started early, that’s what saves lives.”

Wilson said ALSTAR EMS plans to have a first aid station at the Chautauqua County Fair, where people can watch and learn hands-on CPR.

For more information, contact ALSTAR EMS at 664-7353 or visit www.wcaservices.com.