What to Do If You're UntrainedCPR isn't as simple as it looks. If you aren't careful while administering oxygen mouth-to-mouth, you can cause more harm than good. The American Heart Association has revised its CPR standards, and now advises people who aren't trained in CPR to skip mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Instead, you should only apply chest compressions at the rate of 100 compressions per minute uninterrupted, until medical attention arrives on the scene to take over. This also applies if you're rusty on your CPR skills.
Administering CPR if CertifiedIf you're trained in CPR, the AHA has also changed the standard of care in regards to CPR. Instead of checking for an airway (or seeing if they're breathing), you should immediately begin chest compressions at the rate of 30 compressions. Once you've administered those compressions, you can check for breathing. If the person is not breathing, you can defer to using rescue breaths alternated with chest compressions.
Knowing When CPR is NecessaryJust because a person is unconscious doesn't mean they need CPR administered. Giving someone unnecessary CPR can be dangerous to their health, especially with babies and children. See if the person is responsive first. This includes opening their eyes, making sounds from the mouth, or moving their limbs. If they're responsive, it's very unlikely they need CPR, and the person answering your 911 call will be able to give you more specific advice.
Calling 911 Right Away Isn't Always the Best IdeaWhen you see your child or baby unresponsive and needs immediate attention, most parents automatically reach for the phone and call 911. However, current CPR classes recommend performing two minutes of CPR before calling 911, which equals five complete cycles of CPR. Remember that CPR always begins with 30 chest compressions, an evaluation of the airway, and then rescue breaths.
What If the Victim Gasps?A lot of people will stop giving chest compressions if the victim takes a gasp of air. It's important not to stop giving compressions because a sudden gasp indicates cardiac arrest, and chest compressions will continue to pump blood to the brain. If you start CPR, it's imperative you don't stop compressions until help arrives, or the person is revived. Even if you want to stop to check for breathing, a pulse, or any other sign of life, this move can be detrimental to the person's ability to revive. If you're ever in doubt and the person remains unconscious, continue compressions until help arrives.
If the Person Fully Revives During CPRThere are plenty of instances where CPR revives the patient completely. If the victim wakes up and is breathing on their own, stop compressions and roll them over onto their side with their head tilted back until help arrives. It is critical to keep an eye on them at all times. If they fall unconscious or stop breathing, they might need CPR again.
CPR is a lifesaving skill if you're trained, and know what you're doing. Even if you've never taken a CPR class, it's important to know the basics until the 911 operator is able to give you better instructions.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer, recent graduate from the University of New Mexico, and avid runner. She loves to blog about fitness, health, home and family. Contact her via twitter @BrookeChaplan.