Lives depend on CPR

Published 10:44 pm Tuesday, October 22, 2019

According to the American Heart Association, more than 350,000 people in the United States each year suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital.

Unfortunately, about 90 percent of those people die. CPR, if performed immediately, can double or triple a person’s chance of survival, but less than half of these out-of-hospital cardiac arrest victims receive CPR from a bystander.

Here’s another statistic for you: about 70 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home. So, if you are ever in the distressing position of witnessing a cardiac arrest, there is a good chance it will be someone that you know and love — and it will be up to you to save them.


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There was a time that CPR recommendations were more complicated. Who could remember the number of chest compressions before you stop and do mouth-to-mouth breathing? And how many breaths before you stop and go back to chest compressions?

These days, many health care organizations recommend doing hands-only CPR — in other words, just the chest compressions — for untrained rescuers who see a teen or adult suddenly collapse. The thinking is that there is still oxygen in the lungs, but the chest compressions are needed to deliver it to the brain while rescue personnel are on their way. So, the best thing to do is to call 911 and then perform chest compressions until help arrives, without worrying about rescue breaths — or, worse, being too afraid of doing it wrong that you avoid helping altogether.

The American Heart Association is among many organizations aiming to train more people in the hands-only CPR tactics. In fact, representatives from the AHA visited Suffolk on Tuesday and spent five hours at the Hilton Garden Inn Suffolk Riverfront training people in hands-only CPR, with a goal of reaching 250 or more by the end of the day. The eight-state tour should end with thousands more trained.

We hope more people will take the time to learn about the benefits of hands-only CPR and, should the opportunity arise, will be the first to help by calling 911 and then performing chest compression. Others’ lives may depend on it.