I recently finished my CPR class, a license that each employee of FRI is required to have. A subject that is now very close to my heart and I will tell you why a little later. When I was told it was a post-requisite to my employment I thought, ‘okay, I work in a quiet office setting, but it certainly won’t hurt having it.’ The class I took was sponsored by the American Heart Association, my instructor was a retired fire fighter an outstanding combination for teaching such an important subject. My hat goes off to them for a very worthwhile teaching program and to FRI for requiring this. One question asked of us at the end of our CPR class was this:
Would you attempt to save a life if you saw someone in distress?
As most people probably know CPR stands for Cardio (heart) Pulmonary (lungs) Resuscitation – resuscitating the heart and lungs by chest compressions and if a mask is available, blowing through it to fill the lungs with air (family members do not require a mask). If no mask is available it has been discovered that the chest compressions can get air into the lungs, how much is not known. When the heart stops, the blood flow stops and oxygen is carried throughout our body by our blood. No heartbeat means no oxygen is getting to the brain so chest compressions are very important and should begin at the very earliest moment possible. To give the person an even higher chance of survival use an AED as well.
While in class I kept hearing the instructor refer to an AED. ‘When you come upon someone laying there unconscious you check the scene for safety, assess the victim checking for other injuries, medical bracelets, any kind of response, breathing or not. If another person is there tell them to call 911 and get an AED,’ he’d say. I had no idea what that was. I have never heard of it – ever. What if my lack of knowledge was the deciding factor rather someone lived or died if put in an emergency situation? Why didn’t I know this and how many other people do not know what an AED is? So I decided to use this opportunity to shed some light on something that is obviously very important – it can mean life or death to someone, possibly even a loved one.
AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator. It’s a machine with a computer inside it that can shock the heart and help it work properly again. If you start CPR right away and then use an AED within a few minutes, you will have the best chance of saving a life. AED’s are safe, accurate and easy to use. The AED will figure out if the person needs a shock and will tell you to give one if needed. It will even tell you when to make sure that no one is touching the person. The pads used to shock the person have a diagram showing you where to place them. Just follow the diagram and listen to whatever it tells you to do, it’s that simple.
If you have ever seen someone having a heart attack this subject takes on a whole new meaning. It’s no longer a required class for employment rather the reality that a person’s mortality can be determined by how quick medical attention is received. In May of this year my dad had a heart attack. I live only a block away so when the phone call was received it did not take long to get to him. My son, who is an athlete ran over and made it to him before I did. He was practically carrying my dad when I pulled up in my car. We only live down the street from the hospital. My dad was trying so hard to breath but wasn’t getting air to his lungs. His eyes were wide and he gasped and with each gasp his body jerked hard. I was scared. My mother with her long gray hair still damp from her evening bath, shook but tried to maintain an air of confidence for my dad, her husband of 54 years, willing him to live I believe. I drove aggressively to get to the hospital – I knew time was not on his side. We arrived safely.
The nurses came out and got him into the ER, they hooked him up to this and that but they seemed to be moving in slow motion. Finally after several attempts of different things, my dad started getting some air, his color started to look more normal. An ambulance was there ready to take him to the heart hospital in a different town, and as they were getting my dad ready for transport the doctor looked at us and said, “I’m surprised he made it, I’ve never seen anyone’s oxygen level get that low and live.” My dad lived. However on October 31st of this year, a very close family member did not share the same fate – he had a heart attack while driving. Medical assistance was not received in time. They tried from the moment the ambulance arrived at their location and continued at the hospital and with all the medical technology available – they could not save him. Too much time passed from the onset of the attack to when the ambulance arrived. The difference between his life and his death.
A heart attack can happen to anyone, anywhere, anytime - even in a quiet office setting. Would you know what to do? Does your company have an AED? Do you know where it is? Has your CPR card expired and you’ve been too busy to get it renewed? There are so many questions that we can ask ourselves regarding this subject and if I were reading an article like this not having completed my CPR class yet I would think, ‘oh good info,’ then would go right back to work on whatever needed my attention. I’d have good intentions but would forget to follow through – don’t let that happen to you. Stop what you’re doing and put it on your calendar to do right now so you can answer in the affirmative - I would attempt to save a life if someone was in distress.
This picture outlines the chain of survival in case of a heart attack;