Dave Stancliff/For the Times-Standard
Posted: 09/26/2010 01:26:18 AM PDT
I remember when I first got CPR certified in the early '80s my biggest concern was that I might have to actually use my new-found knowledge. I know that sounds pretty stupid, but let me explain.
The idea of locking lips with some stranger who was foaming at the mouth was repulsive, even if it was part of the cardiopulmonary resuscitation process I was taught to save lives.
I really hoped the day would never come. I had no trouble with “Resusci Anne,” the plastic torso that I knelt over on the firehouse floor while learning CPR. I saved her life numerous times to get my little American Red Cross CPR pin.
I knew my recently acquired knowledge wouldn't be so easy to apply in real life. You had to count, pinch a nose, blow, compress ... and stay cool while doing it. In a manner of minutes, I was sucking air with “Resusci Anne” in training but I knew if I stopped, no one would really die, as they might in the real world.
There was (and still is) another consideration involved in helping a person: being sued by grieving relatives looking for someone to blame. In some jurisdictions, good Samaritan laws only protect those who have completed basic first aid training and are certified by health organizations, such as the American Heart Association, American Red Cross or St. John Ambulance, provided they have acted within the scope of their training.
In these jurisdictions, a person who is neither trained in first aid nor certified, and who performs first aid incorrectly, can still be held legally liable for errors made. In other jurisdictions, any rescuer is protected from liability, so long as the responder acted rationally.
The last time I was CPR certified was in the early '90s. I let my certification expire for a host of reasons. The other day I read an article a friend sent me about Continuous Chest Compression-CPR (CCC-CPR). I don't know how up-to-date you are in life-saving methods, but this method, which had its beginnings in 2003 in Tucson, Ariz., is news to me.
It was developed at the University of Arizona College of Medicine and designed to make it more likely that a bystander would stop to help a person in distress. Here's the really great part (to me): It doesn't require the mouth-to-mouth contact of the old method.
According to Gordon A. Ewy, M.D., director of the UA Sarver Heart Center and one of the research pioneers who developed CCC, “It's easy.” In 2008, the American Heart Association endorsed the improved bystander protocol for cardiac arrest, and it now advocates continuous chest compressions.
The doctors who developed this procedure say there is enough oxygen in the blood to keep the brain supplied for 10 minutes, so breathing into the mouth is not required. Also, stopping compression to breathe into the mouth causes a cessation in the blood flow, so little new oxygen is added, anyway.
Now we're told to pump, pump, pump the chest. In a Feb. 12 presentation by the Mayo Clinic, researchers said, “We now know that even mildly excessive ventilation rates and incomplete chest-wall recoil during CPR can be lethal.
”This, quite simply, is the reason for improvement in CPR by eliminating the mouth-to-mouth ventilations and using 100 uninterrupted compressions per minute, a proven method of resuscitation that results in more efficient oxygen delivery to the heart and brain during cardiac arrest, more successful responses to electroshock and better neurological outcomes for the future.”
This method doubles the chance for survival over the old one, according to the Sarver Heart Center. For the record, CCC is not meant to replace CPR, it's just the safest way for a layman to help. I suppose it's time I get re-certified in case the need ever arises. It hasn't yet, thank goodness, and I hope it never will.
As It Stands, getting CCC-CPR certified may be easier now, but remember it still comes with a moral responsibility to use it.