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Monday, August 23, 2010

Common excuses for not learning CPR

Not being current with your CPR skills is quite similar to playing Russian Roulette, but with the weapon pointed at the head of a family member or friend.

Here are the most common rebuttals we hear when recruiting people for CPR class:

I took CPR four years ago & I remember how to do it.
  • First of all, CPR keeps changing as we learn more about successes. We're not questioning your memory. Second, you will also learn how to use an AED, how to safely do the Heimlich maneuver, and how to recognize when someone is having a stroke.
I can't do CPR. I can't get down on the ground. I have bad (or artificial) knees (or hips)
  • Yes, you can. There is a special way we can show you. Come to class.
I can't do CPR. I have terrible arthritis in my hands / wrist?
  • Yes, you can. There is a special way we can show you. Come to class.
I'm afraid I will catch AIDS.
  • You can do CPR reliably without worrying about catching AIDS. Come to class.
If I'm trained and don't do anything when I see someone collapse I'll be liable.
  • SLICC doesn't give law advice, but we are confident that your attorney will confirm that (a) you don't incur a duty to respond and thus a duty to act just by getting trained, and (b) there are "good samaritan laws" that protect passers-by who act with good intentions and without compensation, when you act within the scope of your training.
I'm afraid I might do CPR on a person who doesn't need it.
  • The patient will usually let you know before you get too far. If someone is not responsive and is not breathing normally, it's time to pump that chest.
I'm afraid I might hurt the person on whom I'm doing CPR.
  • The person who needs CPR is already dead. What you do will either not make a difference, or it will save that person's life. You can't make a dead person worse off, unless you push on the very bottom of the breast bone..
I'm afraid I might break a (patient's) rib or something.
  • Even if you're doing CPR properly, you will eventually find a patient whose ribs will become broken or 'snapped off' the cartilege. If you were the patient, which would you prefer: dead with all ribs intact? ...or alive with some rib damage?
I hate to be crass, but I can imagine encountering someone on whom I'm willing to do chest compressions, but don't count on me to administer any rescue breaths. Will just pumping the chest help by itself.
  • Yes. If you don't think you can do something safely, don't do it. In fact, compression-only CPR has been shown to be better for the victim than full CPR in the case of witnessed adult cardiac arrests. Just make sure that you've got the head tilted and the chin lifted before you start the chest compressions so that your compressions can provide some respiratory benefit.