Save a Life? I Can Do That.

What would you do if you saw your child’s friend choke on the team snack?  Or your child’s baseball coach stop breathing?  Or your bantam hockey player collapse on the ice?

For $60 and 2 1/2 hours of your time, you could save a life.

I recently received my CPR/AED certification.  I needed it for professional reasons, but as the mom of a youth athlete, I see value in it in my personal life as well.  In all of my son’s athletic programs, he is using facilities that have AEDs (automated external defibrillators) and people trained to perform CPR and address other medical emergencies.  But if that person is Coach and Coach collapses, then what?  What if the staffer trained to use the AED is on a soccer field hundreds of yards across the park?  Time is critical.  The sooner a person is treated, the better the outcome.

I was trained through the American Heart Association.  It seems weird to use the term “easy” when learning how to save lives, but CPR/AED training is easy.

Assessing the situation. We learned how to assess a crisis situation, to identify someone in need of help and to be aware of other factors that can impact the safety of the victim and person providing aid.  Two critical things: have someone call 911 and have someone get an AED (if one is available.)

CPR.  We were taught how to do chest compressions, including how many compressions to do and how deep they need to be. We were taught how to do this for adults, children and infants. And if you’re squeamish about the mouth-to-mouth part of CPR, you don’t have to do mouth-to-mouth breathing.  Chest compressions alone can save a victim.  (We were taught breathing techniques, however.)

Choking.  We practiced helping choking victims, including troubleshooting a significant height or weight difference between the victim and person helping the victim.  We also learned how to address the needs a choking victim who is a child or a pregnant woman.

AED.  If you’ve ever watched a medical drama on TV, you’ve probably heard a doctor yell, “Clear!” then shock a patient to get their heart pumping.  Small versions of AEDs are popping up all around our communities, in restaurants, sports facilities and shopping malls. The machine literally walks you step-by-step through how to apply the “paddles”, if/when to administer a shock and when to return to CPR.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), each year there are approximately 935,000 heart attacks and 795,000 strokes.  The more people who can perform CPR and use an AED, the better chance we have at saving lives.

So why don’t more people get trained?  Fear of lawsuits or “getting in trouble” if something goes wrong is a common answer.  In these situations, something is wrong.  Someone is dying.  You cannot get in trouble for administering CPR.  Afraid you’ll hurt someone?, It rarely happens, but what if you do crack someone’s ribs or burn them slightly with the AED?  I’ll take a cracked rib over death any day.

I encourage everyone to participate in CPR/AED training.  It’s easy, inexpensive and closer than you think.  Find an American Heart Association class close to your home by clicking here.  I left feeling incredibly empowered.  That said, I hope I never have to use my new skills.

One thought on “Save a Life? I Can Do That.

  1. Great post, Michelle. Today’s article from Fox Sports reinforces the importance of this training:

    http://msn.foxsports.com/other/story/12-year-old-boy-survives-after-foul-ball-to-the-chest-stops-his-heart-052412

    Foul Ball Stops Heart of 12-Year Old

    Tragedy was averted on a New Jersey Little League baseball field when the quick thinking of coaches and nurses saved the life of a 12-year-old boy whose heart stopped after a ball struck him in his chest.

    Sean Neely, from Freehold Township, was playing catcher on May 12 when a foul ball hit him so hard his heart stopped beating.

    The condition, called commotio cordis, is very uncommon and is caused by a sudden blow to the chest. It only has a survival rate of about 15 percent.

    In Sean’s case, however, his baseball coaches were able to step in and perform CPR with the aid of nurses present, thus saving his life.

    “He was just laying there, not moving, blue in the face, eyes rolled in the back of his head,” Sean’s mother Candy Neely told FOX News. “If they weren’t there and hadn’t acted at the right time, Sean wouldn’t be here today.”

    Sean, who has no history of cardiac problems, was flown to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where he made a full recovery.

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