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EDITORIAL: Easy to learn, invaluable to know

We all remember the old method for executing CPR. You compress your hands on somebody’s chest for 30 quick bursts and then lean over to give mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

The first half of the process was the easy part for most. It was the thought of giving proper mouth-to-mouth resuscitation that created uneasiness.

The American Heart Association has been working to ease those fears over the last six years by introducing hands-only CPR as a way to treat teens and adults who collapse outside of a medical setting such as a hospital. This way, everyone can help save someone’s life.

The American Heart Association began promoting hands-only CPR in 2008 because research showed the No. 1 deterrent to people using traditional CPR was panic. Even those trained in traditional CPR methods were unsure they could successfully execute the procedure if faced with a real-life medical emergency.

The concept behind encouraging people to use hands-only CPR is simple: it reduces the fear factor. Most people feel confident in placing their hands on a stranger’s chest and administering quick, forceful compressions. But it gets trickier when it comes to breathing into the mouth of a person who has collapsed and is unresponsive. What if the proper technique isn’t followed? What if the other person has a disease or illness? This uncertainty often leads to inaction, which is the last thing someone who has suffered a heart attack needs. Time is always of the essence when it comes to a medical crisis.

Hands-only CPR requires only two steps: calling 9-1-1 to report a medical emergency, and immediately administering chest compressions 100 times per minute. If you need a frame of reference for the proper tempo, the American Heart Association recommends you think of the disco classic “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees and administer the compressions to every beat of the song. You’ll have to keep doing it until medical personnel arrives or until the victim becomes responsive. If you need a break and can ask someone else to help, the American Heart Association recommends you do that. Otherwise, it’s up to you.

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