Recently on one of our Safe and Sound first aid courses, the instructor asked those attending ‘what is CPR and does anyone know what it stands for?’. Whilst everybody had heard of CPR, few knew what the letters meant and how it to actually perform it in order to keep a person alive.
What is CPR?
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. For the general public and for first aiders, CPR refers to the basic first aid procedures that can be used to keep someone alive until the emergency medical services can get to the scene. By doing CPR you are acting as a manual pump. The chest compressions pump the blood around the body and the rescue breaths are putting oxygen in. You might have heard of the expression ‘the kiss of life’ which is another name for rescue breaths.
If you are the first person on the scene and somebody has stopped breathing by performing CPR, you will allow sufficient blood containing oxygen to reach the brain, heart and other organs which will keep the person alive for several minutes. CPR on its own will not restart the heart, but what it does is to ‘buy time’ for the medical services to reach the scene. Providing effective CPR more than doubles the chance of someone surviving a cardiac arrest.
How to do CPR
CPR including rescue breaths, otherwise known as mouth-to-mouth, gives the best chance of survival. However, if you prefer not to give rescue breaths, hands-only CPR is still likely to increase a person’s chance of survival and it’s definitely better than doing nothing. This excellent British Heart Foundation video featuring Vinnie Jones shows how to do hands-only CPR in a memorable way:
Often when adults suffer a cardiac arrest, the heart suddenly stops and prior to this breathing will probably have been normal (or nearly normal) so the blood should be well oxygenated which is why this video doesn’t show rescue breaths. Doing compression-only CPR for the first few minutes after the heart stops will be effective and it will provide time for the emergency services to get there with an AED. Any longer than a few minutes then the oxygen is likely to be used up and the rescue breaths will be required to give a better chance of survival.
If you want to learn and practice CPR, so that if it came to it you could be confident to perform this life-saving technique, then check out our range of first aid courses here.
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