Every student should take a CPR class

Savannah Rondeau

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation can seem to be a scary phrase, but it can save lives.  According to the American Heritage Science Dictionary, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, more commonly known as CPR, is “an emergency procedure in which the heart and lungs are made to work by manually compressing the chest overlying the heart and forcing air into the lungs.”  CPR is an easy skill to learn. It can also mean the difference of life or death. Therefore, every able-bodied person should learn CPR.

Before classes began on Aug. 23, a friend of mine passed away from suffocation and cardiac arrest. His roommate discovered him, but was only vaguely familiar with CPR. No one is blaming the roommate for my friend’s death, but some wonder what would have happened if he knew CPR.  Would my friend still be alive?

This scenario is not uncommon. Healthsafety.com states that over 70 percent of all cardiac and breathing emergencies occur in the home.  Does your roommate know CPR?

CPR is a series of compressions and breaths used to mimic the heart circulating blood and lungs filling with oxygen. Compressions consist of a rescuer pushing the chest down about two inches. This is important to circulate blood throughout the vital organs. The breaths are comprised of the rescuer breathing into the victim for a breath of about one second to force oxygen into the lungs that will be circulated with the compressions. One cycle of CPR is 30 compressions and two breaths.

The Automated External Defibrillator, or AED, is a device that is vital to the survival of a cardiac victim. The AED has the ability to analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, send a shock to the victim’s heart to hopefully restore the heart’s electrical system to allow the heart to begin pumping blood effectively. Typically,  AEDs hang on the wall in plain sight in the public and can look intimidating. However, these devices have been modified many times over the years and will tell the rescuer exactly how to use them.

As an Emergency Medical Technician, I know emergency personnel do all they can to ensure a quick response time; however, sometimes that is not enough.  The national average response time of Emergency Medical Services is eight to ten minutes. Four to six minutes of little or no oxygen reaching the brain is all it takes for brain death to begin, and at eight minutes the brain death is permanent.  Also, each minute the AED is not used on a victim, the chance of that victim’s survival reduces ten percent for the eight minutes it could take for EMS to arrive. Without bystander CPR/AED means the victim’s chance of survival is only 20 percent and permanent brain death has occurred.  This is where bystander CPR saves lives.

According to the American Heart Association, only 27.4 percent of all cardiac arrest victims who are in an out-of-hospital setting receive bystander CPR, and approximately 94 percent of cardiac arrest victims die before reaching the hospital. Knowing CPR can save someone’s life.

CPR can be used for a variety of emergency situations other than cardiac arrest.  A modified version of CPR can be used for victims who are unconscious and choking.  CPR can be used for victims of drowning. As a community that is lakeside and has already experienced many drownings in Lake Superior this past summer, it is vital that people understand CPR. They can potentially save the victims of drowning.

One excuse many people use to avoid getting their CPR certification is time – especially students with a full course load. A CPR course can be taught in less than one day and, depending on the course, can be taught in as little as three to four hours. Hopefully, a student can spare three to four hours of his or her Saturday afternoon to learn how to save someone’s life. If not, what kind of world are we living in?

Northern Michigan University offers a variety of safety and wellness classes to the students and the community.  Visit webb.nmu.edu/SportsRecSports/ and click “Certification Classes” for the complete list of classes offered at NMU.

Also, Katie Theut, fitness and informal recreation manager, can be reached with any class questions at [email protected]