Out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCAs) are frequent occurrences in the US and can happen to people of all ages. Although the elderly are the most vulnerable, this NCBI study finds that SCA can also occur in young athletes, sometimes having fatal consequences.
In case of an accident, providing CPR and first aid is crucial. However, many bystanders with CPR certificates are still not confident in their skills and hesitate to approach the victim. Remember that CPR increases the survival chances of a victim by two or three times.
This article explains how to provide CPR on the go, with essential tips for performing CPR outside of clinical settings in Jacksonville.
How to Recognize a Person in Cardiac Arrest
People who experience or are about to experience sudden cardiac arrest share symptoms that suggest immediate cardiac arrest or symptoms that point to a possible cardiac arrest in the future:
Symptoms of Immediate Cardiac Arrest
Here are some signs that a person may be having cardiac arrest:
- Sudden Collapse: A person undergoing a sudden cardiac arrest loses their conscience and immediately collapses. Confirm that the person has suffered cardiac arrest by checking their pulse.
- Absence of Pulse: Having no pulse is a potential warning that a person’s heart has stopped and requires immediate resuscitation.
- No Breathing: If the person is not breathing, it is safe to say they are in cardiac arrest and need CPR immediately.
Warning Symptoms of Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Here are some warning signs that a person is about to go into cardiac arrest:
- Chest pain or angina: The person may feel chest pressure, tightness, or squeezing as the arteries begin to clog while the heart is making an effort to work normally. This is a major warning sign that a sudden cardiac arrest may occur, but it is unknown when. Note that the pain may spread to the upper body (shoulders, arms, neck, jaw, and back).
- Heart palpitations: Usually, before a sudden cardiac arrest, the person experiences abnormal heart rhythms such as skipping a beat, “racing heartbeat”, etc.
- Shortness of breath: Usually, women experience this abnormality, but it is quite common in men, too. Feeling like you cannot get enough air is a major sign of coronary anomaly.
These are the “alarming” signs that a sudden cardiac arrest may occur in the near future. Other symptoms include extreme tiredness, flu-like symptoms, stomach discomfort, and back pain. Immediate consultation with a doctor is imperative to ensure early intervention.
How to Provide Effective CPR Outside of Clinical Settings
Providing CPR within the first few minutes of a cardiac arrest is crucial because if the brain is left without oxygen for 4-6 minutes, the risk of permanent brain damage or death is high. Therefore, it’s important to gather courage and provide CPR immediately.
Below, you will find the guide with the essential tips for performing CPR outside of clinical settings:
Check the Victim’s Condition
If the person shows one or more of the signs we mentioned above, you should react immediately. The first step is to check if the person is aware of their surroundings and ask if they need help. If the person does not react to your voice, they may be in cardiac arrest.
The next thing you should do is check if the person has a pulse or is breathing. If you have a mirror on you, even better. Place the mirror below their nose; if it fogs, the person is only unconscious; otherwise, you should immediately start CPR. To check for a pulse, use your index finger and place it on the inside of their wrist.
Note that victims of OHCA should not receive CPR if they are still breathing.
Prepare the Victim for CPR
Before preparing for CPR, call 911 immediately so that help is on the way and EMTs can take over. Then, follow the steps below.
The victim has to be positioned on solid ground, on their back, with their chin and face lifted to open the airway. To effectively position the victim, all you have to do is kneel beside their chest, pick up the chin, and lift it a little until it looks parallel to the body or the spine.
Before you take further action, you should ensure their mouth is empty. Open their mouth to see if there is food or vomit blocking the airway. If there is any, remove it immediately.
Once you have gone over all the steps above, it’s time to begin with CPR. Here is what you should do, step by step:
Give 30 Compressions
The first thing you need to do is to start with the heart compressions. Place your hand just below the nipple line, right in the center of the chest, and cover it with your other hand. Keep your elbows straight, and start doing the compressions with the heel of your hand.
Push 2 inches deep for an adult person and give 30 compressions. Do not stop with compressions, and aim for a rate of 120 per minute. Note that the victim is ready for the next compression only if the chest rises.
Provide Rescue Breaths
Remember to always check their mouth is clear before you provide rescue breaths. Tilt their head to ensure the airway is cleared. Then, seal their nose to ensure no air escapes from the nose and give a rescue breath. Do this by blowing into the victim’s mouth and then watch if the chest rises.
Note that the chest has to rise from the rescue breaths. If it doesn’t, it is probably because the victim’s nose is not sealed properly or their airways are blocked.
Provide 2 rescue breaths for every 30 compressions.
Repeat the Steps Until EMTs Arrive
Make sure you keep going until the person shows signs of life. If you are tired, make sure that someone else continues with the CPR. If your hands get sore, ask someone else to continue or use an AED.
If the area is crowded, it should have an AED sign somewhere. If there is an AED, ask someone to bring it to you while you prepare the victim for the next steps.
AEDs significantly increase survival chances, and what’s even better nowadays is that they are super easy to use. Modern AED devices create an entire analysis of the heart and determine when it’s the best time to provide a shock. All you have to do in these cases is follow the instructions and nothing more.
Can Everyone Perform CPR Outside of Clinical Settings?
Many people believe that only a medical person can provide CPR and use AED in case of an accident. However, despite this popular belief, the majority of US states have adopted the Good Samaritan Law—including Jacksonville, Florida—that encourages laypersons to take action and help victims in need. Otherwise, the Good Samaritan Law has a few conditions that every person should follow:
- If the person is conscious, you have to ask for consent from the victim. Do not take any actions before you perform CPR;
- The bystander or the person offers care in an appropriate manner. In other words, the person providing help has to be gentle and have the victim’s well-being in mind. Gross negligence is punishable by law.
- To be protected from charges with the Good Samaritan Law, the CPR provider cannot be the one who caused the accident.
Finally, you do not need a CPR certificate to give CPR. As long as you know the basic CPR steps, you can help a victim in need. Still, getting CPR couldn’t hurt and will only help you improve your skills and provide better aid.
Let’s briefly go over the most important points of the article regarding CPR intervention in Jacksonville.
Every bystander is allowed to provide CPR to a victim outside the hospital as long as they follow Good Samaritan Law guidelines. Before giving CPR, you should check if the person is conscious and only proceed if they show no signs of life.
The guide above will help you master the CPR steps, but we also advise you to enroll in a CPR class for a more personal approach.