You are walking through the offices spaces or along an aisle in a restaurant and you see an adult collapse to the floor. A crowd quickly gathers around the person and everyone looks down at him. The person has stopped breathing and is unresponsive. What is the next steps you should take?
- Call 911 or have someone call 911.
- Make sure the airway is clear and begin compressing the center of the chest at a rate of about 100 times per minute. Have someone relieve you if you get tired. Continue the process until trained emergency help arrives.
Sound new and different? It is. The American Heart Association is now recommending the “Hands Only” chest compression method of CPR for adults who suffer a sudden collapse. The reasoning is that an adult who suffers a sudden collapse probably has sufficient oxygen in the blood and lungs. The important step is to get the blood circulating.
A second reason for making the change is to encourage more bystanders to get involved in emergency situations. Many admit that they do not render assistance for fear of “catching something” from the mouth-to-mouth contact of CPR. Since any action is better than none and this newly approved technique moves oxygenated blood in these adults, it is hoped this procedure will help save more lives.
Two other factors come into play with this recommendation. Recent studies show that for out-of-hospital cardiac arrests the survival rates for traditional CPR and Hands-Only CPR are about the same. Bystanders may also get chest compressions started earlier.
An important fact to remember is that this procedure is not to be used in all cases where the person has stopped breathing and is unresponsive. It is only to be used where adults have unexpectedly collapsed. It is not to be used with children who are not breathing or adults in other situations such as near-drownings, drug overdoses or when an adult might be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning. In these cases the mouth-to-mouth CPR method should be used. In these cases oxygen needs to be added to the blood.
This announcement by the AHA indicates a strong feeling about the topic. The scheduled time for procedure review was not until 2010. Changes were announced because three studies in 2007 indicated that the “Hands Only” CPR was as effective as the standard CPR in those specific situations discussed.
The new CPR procedure for an unresponsive adult who has collapsed suddenly and is not breathing is:
- Call 911
- Begin “Hands Only” CPR at the rate of approximately 100 compressions per minute.