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It Only Takes Two Steps to Save A Life: The Facts You Never Knew About CPR

It Only Takes Two Steps to Save A Life: The Facts You Never Knew About CPR

A hero can come form anywhere, and may be needed at any time to come to the rescue of an unsuspecting victim.  Many “heroes” save lives because simply because they are prepared, have training, and the confidence to act quickly, and this is how they were able to save the life of Steven Levitt.  Pay careful attention to his story, as told in the first person… and think to yourself if you would have had the ability to react, act, or be a hero for a loved one, a friend, a family member or even a stranger.  And then keep reading,  if you haven’t learned it already, by the end of this article, you will have learned the two simple steps you need to learn to save a life.

 

It’s about 9:30 am on June 21, 2014 at The Village Club. I remember the score was 2-5 and we were just about to change ends of the court.  That’s it folks!  The next thing I know I am in the hospital with a big, thick tube down my throat. What happened in-between is my story.

Start with a healthy 73-year-old man in very good shape, playing tennis (singles and doubles) and golf (often on the same day).  Add in twice-a-week workouts with a trainer (who has with total disregard for my age), and as a person who sees my doctor every year . . . . and what you have is a very unlikely candidate for a heart attack.  But that’s exactly what happened on the court changeover.  I am told I went down slowly but down I did go. During the next 15-20 minutes, a number of heroes emerged to save my life.

The first hero is Joe, an investment banker, who began CPR immediately as he was playing on the next court.  Someone called 911, while somebody else opened the back gate for EMS and still others began searching for the tennis-playing doctors (every club should have them!).  The next hero, Dr. R, a pediatric allergist, continued mouth-to-mouth resuscitation alternating with Joe.  Hero number three, Steve, an oral surgeon, joined the CPR rescue party. One of the other players located the club defibrillator and Steve put it to work.  After a few minutes, they say I had started to breathe on my own, before EMS had arrived.  Shortly thereafter, I was taken by ambulance to St. Francis Hospital, the place you want to be with a heart problem!

And a problem I did have.  Within the week, the magicians there had huddled and decided I needed a triple bypass since three arteries were each 95% blocked.  I didn’t get a vote.  Terrific doctors (chief of cardiology and amazing thoracic surgeon) and nurses of all levels pulled me through.

Amazingly, three weeks to the day after surgery, I went to a doctor’s appointment (all is VERY well), bought a pair of shoes at Macy’s, took a nice long walk with my wife along the Oyster Bay waterfront and visited with our granddaughter at her home.

How do I feel about what happened?  More than thankful to be alive, indebted to my tennis club friends for their collective efforts to save me, grateful for the support of my loving family, overwhelmed by the interest and attentiveness of great friends and more in love with my fantastic wife for being who she is.

You know, it really does take a “Village” to save a life.

Steven Levitt

 

Steven’s story is all to familiar for many.  An active man, in seemingly great health, enjoying one of his favorite physical activities… and then disaster strikes.  Heart attacks can happen at any time, and not just to the most obvious of victims.  You can be active, healthy, and young, and without notice find yourself in a state of cardiac arrest.  Steven was lucky.   Without the quick thinking and action of Joe, Dr. R and Steve, in working together to perform CPR, and to get medical help as soon as possible, Steven Levitt may have died on the court.   Because those men did not hesitate, because they were prepared, and because they took action, Steven will get to live another day.   They were prepared, and its time that you should be too, because disaster can happen at any time and you may not get a second chance to save the life of a loved one.  So what are you waiting for?

Heart attacks are definitely a situation where knowing Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, better known as CPR, can save a life, but they aren’t the only situation in which a life can be saved from administering CPR.  Cardiac arrest, drug overdose, drowning, choking are all situations that can happen at any time, and need immediate action by an individual in order to have their lives saved.   Many people are afraid to administer CPR in fear that they will do it wrong or injure someone, or simply feeling uncomfortable about performing mouth to mouth, but the most important thing I want you to learn about CPR today, and keep it with you for the rest of your life, even if you learn nothing else, is…  ANY attempt at CPR is better then NO attempt.  So it’s time you learned the facts.

1.  There are two types of CPR.  CPR, and Hands-Only CPR that is performed without “Mouth to Mouth.”  If you see an adult or teen collapse in front of you, you can perform Hands-Only CPR by calling for help and then immediately performing compressions in the center of the chest by pushing hard and fast.

2. Hands-Only CPR increases life saving responses from people to those who have collapsed: Most Americans do not stay up-to-date with CPR training and are afraid to administer it in fear that they are doing it wrong.  Other people feel uncomfortable administering mouth to mouth.  Having the option of administering “Hands-Only” CPR to a victim greatly increases the chance  and likelihood that someone will rush to the victims aid and begin to perform CPR at all.   If you don’t know how to do anything else, call for help and begin compressions to a collapsed and unresponsive victim immediately.

3. Hands-Only CPR can be just as effective as mouth-to-mouth CPR: When administered to an adult or teen who have suddenly collapsed, because they suddenly collapse with cardiac arrest, his or her lungs and blood contain enough oxygen to keep vital organs healthy for the first few minutes, as long as someone provides high-quality chest compressions with minimal interruption to pump blood to the heart and brain.  The most important thing someone near the victim can do for a person in sudden cardiac arrest is to pump blood to the brain and to the heart muscle, delivering the oxygen that still remains in the lungs and blood. Do this by giving high-quality chest compressions with minimal interruptions. Interruptions in compressions to give mouth-to-mouth breaths may bring some additional oxygen into the lungs, but the benefit of that oxygen can be offset if you stop the blood flow to the brain and heart muscle for more than a few seconds (especially in the first few minutes after a sudden cardiac arrest when there is still plenty of oxygen in the lungs and blood).

4. Mouth-to-Mouth CPR should be performed instead of Hands-Only when: The situation involves infants and young children, drowning, overdose, a collapse due to the inability to breath, or to a victim who was already found unconscious .

5. CPR is a skill that can be improved with practice. The more you practice, the more likely you are to save a life.

6. Any attempt at CPR is better than no attempt.  By standing around watching, and not taking any action, you only leave the victim to die.  Hands-Only CPR performed by a bystander has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR with mouth-to-mouth breaths in the first few minutes of an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest. Conventional CPR may be better than Hands-Only CPR for certain victims, though, such as infants and children, teens or adults who are found in cardiac arrest (whom you did not see collapse) or victims of drowning, drug overdose, or collapse due to breathing problems.

7. The American Heart Association recommends you take a CPR course every two years: People trained up on CPR are more likely to administer it at a time of need.

8. To perform CPR correctly, you must give high-quality chest compressions at least 100 times per minute, and that can be exhausting, especially if you are still waiting for help to arrive. In the event that you become tired, it is ok to let someone take over to ensure that there is no interruption in the chest compressions.

9. You should stop Hands-Only CPR for two reasons:  The victim starts to move, talk or breath normally, or help arrives to take over.

10. The chance of someone suffering from cardiac arrest:  ZERO.  Unless someone takes immediate action to perform CPR.

11. Always start immediate CPR to a teen or adult who has suddenly collapsed and is unresponsive. Even if you are not 100% sure that the collapsed victim has had cardiac arrest, if they are unresponsive, start performing Hands-Only CPR immediately.  It with either help increase the chance of survival for a victim, or awaken a victim to move, speak or respond normally who has stopped for some other reason.

12. 1/3rd of victims who receive CPR will have some type of injury, such as a fracture or broken rib, however, it is not fatal.  What IS fatal is a person suffering cardiac arrest outside of a hospital and NOT receiving any form of CPR.  Don’t be afraid to take action.  Any victim will take a broken rib over death.

13. YOU CAN PERFORM CPR WITHOUT TRAINING:  On average, any attempt, trained or untrained, to provide any form of CPR to a victim is better then not trying at all.

14. Timing 100 Chest Compressions Per Minute is easier than you think.   The American Heart Association recommends that you perform compressions to the beat of the popular BeeGees song, “Staying Alive.”

15. The Hands-Only CPR is encouraged in the hopes that more bystanders will be willing to take action when an emergency occurs.  The simpler technique is promoted to help over come panic and hesitation to act and provide immediate chest compressions to the victim.

 

In case you’re not convinced that this could happen to anyone, even those in best health, here’s a similar story of a 55 year old athlete competing in a local triathlon.  During the first length of the race, which is a 1,500m swim, he only made it a short distance before having to be pulled out of the water by the event life guards:  Learn more here.

Please take the time to watch this simple video on Hands-Only CPR.  Learn how two steps can save a life.  You may not have a second chance to learn, and tomorrow may be too late.  

 

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