Hands-only CPR: A Lifesaving Skill That Everyone Needs to Know
You might have seen a similar scenario on one of your favorite TV shows. A man is eating at a diner countertop and then, out of nowhere, falls to the ground. He’s not moving, responding, or breathing. He’s suffering from a cardiac arrest. Luckily, there’s a trained medical professional who happens to be at the right place at the right time who’s ready, willing and able to administer CPR that inevitably saves that person’s life.
Have you ever considered what you would do though if faced with the same situation? Could you be the hero in the story? You know the drill—mouth-to-mouth breathing, repeated compressions to the chest and, voila, a life is saved. Unfortunately though, traditional CPR is not that simple and many feel unable or fearful to act in such a critical situation.
It doesn’t have to be that way, according to Scott Storey, critical care paramedic and EMS training officer at Williamson Medical Center. In fact, Storey says there’s a more simple, two-step approach that nearly everyone can do—no mouth-to-mouth breathing required!
Traditionally, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, better known as CPR, is a multi-step process that can take several hours of training. Luckily, there’s an approach known as hands-only CPR or compression-only CPR that’s been developed to help encourage the regular bystander to feel capable and confident in administering CPR should the need arise.
“When someone is in critical need of care, even a seasoned professional can find themselves forgetting a certain step due to the stress of the situation,” explained Storey. “Most people have probably never administered CPR a single time in their life, so why would we expect them to recall compression ratios to ventilation ratios? All that will do is delay the person receiving the care they need and ultimately their chance of surviving.”
Storey goes on to share how hands-only CPR is a much easier skill to master than traditional CPR.
“Hands-only CPR is perfect for the average person because all they have to do is recall two steps: call 911 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest,” he said. “You continue to do that until professional, medical help arrives or you cannot physically push anymore.”
According to Storey, the rate in which you administer chest compressions is also an important factor.
“The recommended rate, according to the American Heart Association, is 100-120 beats per minute,” he said. “That can sound complicated at first, but songs like ‘Stayin Alive’ by the Bee Gees or ‘Crazy in Love’ by Beyoncé are two songs that reach those beats per minute and provides an easy rhythm that anyone can follow.
Beyond knowing what to do, Storey goes on to share that people need to take the fear of hurting someone out of the equation.
“People feel hesitant to administer CPR because they’re afraid that they will hurt the person or afraid they are going to mess up,” he said. “That’s not the case though. The reality is, if that person suffering from cardiac arrest does not receive assistance and immediately, their chance of surviving is very unlikely. Action is critical in this type of situation, so not doing anything would be more harmful.”
“Hands-only CPR has shown to be just as effective as conventional CPR for cardiac arrest and when performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival,” says Storey. “I encourage everyone to visit the American Heart Association’s website to watch their training video. It only takes a few minutes and it’s a lifesaving skill everyone should know how to do.”
About Scott Storey, B.S., CCEMT-P, IC:
Scott Storey is a critical care paramedic and EMS training officer at Williamson Medical Center. Storey who earned his Bachelor of Science in healthcare administration has been an EMT for 26 years, a paramedic for 21 years and a critical care paramedic for 10 years. He has been with Williamson Medical Center for 14 years.Share this Article
Tags: cardiac, cardiac rehab, cardiopulmonary, cpr, heart health, skills