Learn first aid techniques to save lives

Published 7:00 am Saturday, March 10, 2018

Automated External Defibrillators save thousands of lives across the United States every year. When a person goes into cardiac arrest, one of the only ways to save them and restore a normal heartbeat is by using an AED. Most first-response vehicles such as ambulances and some fire engines are equipped with these devices. However, in emergencies, first responders sometimes take 10 minutes or more to respond, leaving the person at the mercy of bystanders. That’s why it’s important to know the basics of CPR.

Cardiac arrest is caused by a malfunction in the heart’s electrical system, which causes the heart to stop pumping blood. Every minute counts when someone suffers from cardiac arrest, so starting CPR immediately is imperative. According to the American Heart Association, if someone suddenly becomes unresponsive, tap their shoulder and shout to ask if they are okay. If they do not respond in any way, check to see if they are still breathing. If a person is only gasping, or if they have stopped breathing, call 911 and begin CPR.

According to the American Heart Association, of the 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that occurred in 2016, bystanders attempted CPR in less than half of those instances. An article by the Health Career Institute states, “100,000 to 200,000 lives of adults and children could be saved each year if CPR were performed early enough.”

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Performing CPR helps continue the circulation of blood throughout the body even after the heart has stopped beating. If blood flow can be maintained, then vital organs can be saved from permanent damage, and the victim can be kept alive until emergency help arrives. CPR training is inexpensive and easily accessible. Taking the time and effort to learn the basics of CPR could mean the difference between life and death for a family member or friend.