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Tuesday, December 3, 2013

A different way of thinking about CPR

The American Heart Association teaches two types of CPR. For healthcare professionals, the BLS (Basic Life Support) class is required. For Bystanders, continuous chest compressions are taught for adults.

Understandably, a natural split has evolved along the lines of professional credentials: if you hold professional medical credentials, you perform BLS skills. If you do not, you perform what is taught in the bystander courses. But this may not be best for the victim.

A different way of deciding what to do when you witness an adult arrest is to ask yourself, "Am I going to have to call 911?" because if you are, then (1) you are not in a hospital or on an ambulance, and (2) you probably aren't going to be able to perform Guideline-Compliant Chest Compressions ("GC3's") from the time of the arrest until the "hands-on" arrival of the ambulance crew.

What I am proposing that you consider in this circumstance is performing continuous chest compressions with the heel of your foot (pedal compressions) whether or not you have BLS training.

This way of deciding what to do will lead to some non-traditional approaches. For example, arrests in doctor's offices, dentist's offices, local "immediate care" outposts of hospitals, while all places where one would expect to find BLS-trained people, they would initially be performing continuous chest compressions, and if short-staffed, might have to switch to pedal compressions to maintain GC3's until the ambulance crew was "hands-on" at the victim.

For further information, see the case for pedal chest compressions.

(Of course, if the victim has arrested secondary to choking or if the victim is a child or if the victim has begun to exhibit signs of a depleted oxygen supply and you have BLS skills, they would be more appropriate.)

Bob Trenkamp, President
Saving Lives In Chatham County