A couple of weeks ago, I took a CPR/AED class through the Red Cross of Phoenix. I loved it. Not only did I emerge from the class with a set of life-saving skills and a greater sense of community responsibility, I came out of there feeling the enormity of the gift that is CPR/AED training. These practices save lives and that feels simply awesome.
CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and is the best method of helping someone who is in cardiac arrest. CPR refers to a series of actions that provide air for someone who is not breathing and consistent stimulation to the heart area for someone whose heart has either begun to beat irregularly or has stopped.
AED stands for Automated External Defibrillators and refers to the practice of using a small, portable defibrillator device on someone in cardiac arrest. An AED is a small box-like electrical device, located in many public places, such as libraries, restaurants, government buildings, airports, workplaces, and shopping malls, that guide someone, trained in the practice, through an analysis of the victim’s heart rate and if necessary, the device administers a small shock to the heart to regulate or restart its beat.
The American Heart Association’s CPR Fact Sheet on their Web site tells us:
- “Sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time. Many victims appear healthy with no known heart disease or other risk factors.
- Sudden cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs when electrical impulses in the heart become rapid or chaotic, which causes the heart to suddenly stop beating. A heart attack occurs when the blood supply to part of the heart muscle is blocked. A heart attack may cause cardiac arrest.”
And, statistics tell us that sudden cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time, including children and people in their teens and early twenties. The American Heart Association goes on to say this about the practice of CPR and using AEDs:
- “Less than one-third of out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest victims receive bystander CPR.
- Effective bystander CPR, provided immediately after sudden cardiac arrest, can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival.
- The American Heart Association trains more than 12 million people in CPR annually, including healthcare professionals and the general public.”
- Unless CPR and defibrillation are provided within minutes of collapse, few attempts at resuscitation are successful.
- Even if CPR is performed, defibrillation with an AED is required to stop the abnormal rhythm and restore a normal heart rhythm.
- New technology has made AEDs simple and user-friendly. Clear audio and visual cues tell users what to do when using an AED and coach people through CPR. A shock is delivered only if the victim needs it.”
As for my class, it was amazing. There we all were, 10 people on the floor of a conference room, following the steps shown to us and administering aid to our CPR dolls, all named “Joe”. We learned how to assess the scene, carefully turn someone over who is unconscious, check for breath, ask for a bystander to call 911, and begin administering CPR until help arrives. We learned how to operate an AED and also the steps for administering CPR/AED processes in teams of two. We even learned how to help adults and children who are choking.
Several times throughout the class, I actually got pretty emotional, reflecting on the seriousness of the training and how vital it is in saving lives. It really hit me. This is the real deal. This is a huge responsibility and one that I gladly take on, but hope that I never have to use. If I ever do, I feel confident that I can help someone. I feel prepared.
So, to anyone reading who has been thinking about taking a CPR class, do it! The classes take, at most, a day out of your life but add so much to your sense of community. I feel closer to other people as a result of completing this class, and that is an added bonus.