You’re at home, at work, or on the street and someone collapses in front of you. They’re not breathing. This person could be a loved one, a coworker, or a complete stranger. Would you know what to do? Are you the type of person who would panic, call 911, stare blankly at the person on the ground, or hope that someone else knew what to do? Or, are you the type of person who knows cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and can potentially save this person’s life?
If you’re not the latter, then it’s time you considered taking a course in CPR training. According to an article on The Huffington Post titled, Far Too Many People Die After Cardiac Arrest. Here's What You Can Do To Help., the Institute of Medicine said that nearly 400,000 people suffer cardiac arrest in their homes or other non-hospital area, yet it’s estimated that fewer than 6% survive. That’s not just low, that’s alarmingly low. Cardiac arrest is worse than a heart attack. It’s when the heart stops beating abruptly due to its electrical activity being knocked out of rhythm. The University of Michigan’s Dr. Robert W. Neumar, who chairs a heart association emergency care committee, said that cardiac arrest is “the most critically ill state a human being can be in.” He further said that people in the U.S. need to feel obligated to help if someone collapses in front of them.
So, you may ask, why aren’t more people performing CPR? According to the article, the leading causes of people not doing anything are fear, not recognizing when someone is suffering cardiac arrest, lack of CPR training, and concern about whether they will be legally liable. Good Samaritan laws vary from state to state, but most offer some degree of protection and people should keep in mind that they don’t have to be perfect -- they're not medical experts after all -- just provide the basics until trained professionals arrive.
Of course, most people would jump at the chance to help a loved one or someone they knew, but what if you saw someone who needed CPR and it wasn’t a loved one. Would you even bother? Just remember that this person is loved by someone and I’m sure if you, or a member of your family, collapsed then you would hope a bystander performed CPR.
Now that the fear and legal concerns are addressed, the next roadblocks to overcome are awareness and training. The Institute of Medicine recommends creating a “culture of action” whereby schools, employers, and governments provide public education on how to recognize when someone is suffering cardiac arrest and then know how to use a portable AED (automated external defibrillator), which are now available in many businesses, and perform CPR. The American Heart Association says that 24 states have legislation that makes CPR training a graduating requirement for high school.
You don’t need to be a hero to save someone’s life. You don’t need to be perfect. And you don’t need to know the individual who needs attention. What you do need to do is get CPR training and jump into action if needed -- it's better than doing nothing at all!