Learn CPR, save a life

ADMINISTERING Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) to someone who is experiencing sudden cardiac arrest gives a four-minute window to allow advanced care to reach the patient, according to the Heart Foundation of Jamaica’s (HFJ) Director of Emergency Cardiac Care (ECC) Dr Hugh Mark Wong.

Speaking this week against the background of the observation of CPR Week – August 22 to 28 – under the theme ‘Let’s Push Start the Heart: Give CPR’, Dr Wong, who is also head of the Accident and Emergency Department at the Kingston Public Hospital, said there is enough oxygen within the tissues of the essential organs to maintain the function of these organs for a short time.

“The organs will maintain oxygenation to a point. This diminishes with time, and for every minute that passes without CPR or defibrillation, the survival rate drops by 10 per cent. If you don’t have CPR within the first four minutes, the chance of survival drops rapidly,” he said. He added that after four minutes the likelihood of brain damage increases and after 10 minutes the survival rate is almost zero.

Dr Wong stated that administering CPR using chest compressions can buy some time until more experienced personnel or advanced care in the form of a device used by the rescuer to separate the breaths arrives. “You don’t need any additional tools,” the ECC director emphasised, “your hand and your brain and the willingness to do so, and that is CPR.”

Dr Wong encouraged Jamaicans to contact the HFJ and sign up for the CPR courses that are offered. He also highlighted the upcoming Friends and Family CPR Day, which will take place today, August 27, at 9:00 am.

“I encourage everybody to come out and learn CPR. The course is three hours and will be taught by our in-house CPR team. This course does not require that you pass an exam. It is strictly skills-based and is easy to learn,” he contended.

The ECC director said the life you save would most likely be a co-worker, a family member, or a friend, and this is because more time is spent with these people.

“You learn where to position your hands, you learn to recognise unresponsiveness, how far you compress, how fast you compress, and when to release,” Dr Wong indicated, adding that people are taught during the training that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is not necessary.

“We do mouth-to-mouth if it’s a close relative or somebody you trust, but there are other techniques, especially in the COVID-19 era, where you are encouraged to do chest compressions-only CPR,” he noted. The important thing with CPR, he said, is that individuals should learn to do it properly.

“CPR that is not done properly is often to the detriment of the patient. You may not have been doing the chest compressions deep enough or you may not be giving the breaths adequately and you end up having a half-resuscitated person, meaning, they have the heart function back but the brain is gone,” the ECC director further explained.

“So we teach how to do it properly because its best that CPR is taught properly, learnt properly, and done properly to the benefit of th0e patients that we aim to rescue,” Dr Wong added.


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