We’re headed into summer! Well, maybe. It’s currently the middle of May and I have yet to see a week without at least 2 days of snow in 2019 Oh, Wyoming. *Sigh.*
But snow or shine, June is fast approaching, and we’ve got an important topic to recognize during the first week: CPR and AED Awareness Week.
From June 1-7, we are taking time to observe the fact that cardiac arrest is a leading cause of death in the United States. CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and AED (automated external defibrillators) are the methods used to revive victims of cardiac arrest, which can occur suddenly and without warning. Cardiac arrest is triggered by an electrical impulse that causes an arrhythmia (irregular beat) in the heart, preventing it from transporting blood to the person’s brain, lungs, and other vital organs. Although those sound like big, fancy, medical terms, I’m here to tell you that they’re not. CPR and AED are simple, important techniques for every person to be aware of and ready to put into action whenever necessary.
According to the American Heart Association, 475,000 people die from cardiac arrest annually in the United States. Perhaps the most unfortunate part of this statistic is that many of these deaths can be prevented by bystanders like you and I. Currently, only about 46% of people who experience cardiac arrest (not in a hospital setting) receive the immediate help they need in time before emergency paramedics can arrive, which can range from 4 to over 10 minutes. But wait, there’s good news too!
Hands-Only CPR is such a simple process that it can be performed by anyone in only 2 steps, and it’s been proven to be just as effective as conventional CPR in life-threatening situations. Simply:
- Call 9-1-1 as soon as you see a teen or adult suddenly collapse.
- Push hard and fast in the center of the individual’s chest at a rate of 100 to 120 beats per minute. It often helps to try to hum or sing a song in your head- “Alexa, play “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees!” (Okay- you probably won’t have your Alexa with you, but you see my point!)
And, if an AED is quickly accessible when you see a cardiac arrest occur, it is easy to use! Simply turn it on and follow the visual and audio prompts it instructs you in. Trust me, it’s a lot less intimidating than looking back and wishing you had done something after it’s too late. However, in most cases, an AED is probably not near. Get this though: you’re still qualified to save a life.
If you take action during a critical moment, you can nearly triple the person’s chances of survival. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you aren’t qualified or certified enough to step in and save a life! There is no special training required to perform Hands-Only CPR, and time is of the essence. For every minute that passes without CPR, the individuals’ chances of survival decrease by 10%, and research shows that 90% of cases of cardiac arrest happen either in public or at home. So, step up and you can do this!
Check out this video and you might just learn the skills needed to save a life:
I remember when I was in high school, we learned about CPR and how to use an AED during a unit in our mandatory health class. I even got the opportunity to become officially certified in CPR by staying a little after school one day, and I can recall how good it felt to get my official “CPR-Certified” card that I would carry around in my wallet. I will never forget that unit because it opened my eyes to the importance of my own actions in emergency situations of cardiac arrest, as well as how easy it is to help someone! Want to find a class near you or learn skills online? CLICK HERE.
It’s important to remember that you don’t have to be officially certified in order to perform Hands-Only CPR when you are needed. Now, I know that I (and you too!) have the power to save lives, and I will never take that power for granted if I am faced with a circumstance where I can make a difference! Be bold, take action, sing “Stayin’ Alive,” and help us reduce the statistic that 54% of people remain as observant bystanders during instances of cardiac arrest. You’ve got this! Let's go save lives!
Stop being a bystander. Be a life-saver.
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You're the best!
Forever your Miss Wyoming 2017 and AHA Advocate,