For most of us, CPR only happens in movies and dramas. At the most dramatic moment, the cardiac monitors shows a flat line and wails at that most high pitched monotonous "BEEEEP". A slew of activities is hurried in the backdrop - someone is doing chest compression, another is handling the airbag, curtains are quickly drawn. This couldn't be far from reality. Well, except that if we ever need to perform CPR, it would not be in a hospital setting.
What are the odds of ever needing to perform CPR? I have been trained for 7 years now and I haven't yet need to use my skills in an out of hospital setting. Needless to say, I always have that nagging fear for an unprecedented event that may occur when I'm out on a roads, in the shopping malls, and most importantly when I'm home with my aged relatives.
Here are 4 things I've learnt from a Basic Cardiac Life Support course.
You need CPR only when there's a flat line.
Contrary to television depiction, one can still have an ECG tracing but still need CPR. In fact CPR is initiated when one collapses and there is no pulse felt. Many a times, this collapse can still come with a rhythm known as PEA/VF/VT. So nope, don't assume it'd always be a flat line!
Image credit to Jennifer Rodgers
When CPR is successful, the person will turn awake and jump up alive.
Unfortunately, when one collapses he or she is very sick. It is very unlikely for one to even regain consciousness when the heart has just started pumping. In a successful CPR, we are looking for Return of Spontaneous Circulation. This is when the pulse can be felt without assisted chest compressions. With a little stroke of luck and many of God's blessings, a small handful of people can be revived with CPR. The cause for collapse has to be rapidly addressed and they need immediate medical attention!
Image credit to mimetechnologies
Does defibrillation [aka electric shock] happens to all?
Debrillation is where an electric current is delivered to the collapsed patient. Many may remember it as 2 iron grills placed on the patient's chest and that dramatic recoil when the shock is delivered. But gone are those days, these are now done through gel pads that are attached to electric probes. There are only a few electric rhythms that will benefit from defibrillation. Asystole, also known as the "flat line" does not need defibrillation.
Image credit to projectheartbeat
I can just call 995 and paramedics will get it all sorted out for us
"CPR only starts in the hospital" This is one of the worst misconceptions one can have. When the heart stops beating, the blood flow to your entire body is going to stop - which means no oxygen no nutrients to all your vital organs! Imagine yourself holding on your breath until the ambulance arrives.. Someone has to first discover that you've collapsed, overcome the fear and make that 995 call. The ambulance zips through all the traffic and finally arrives, only to have to wait for the lift to get them to the correct level. Can your brain wait until then? Every minute matters. The longer it is for CPR to be started, the chances of recovery drops.
Image credit to @superstraho
Be trained. We won't know when this life saving skill will come to use.
Your Skillsfuture Credits can now be used to upgrade your skills. Pick up CPR with BCLS courses available right here!