Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a medical procedure used during times of emergency. The procedure helps to restore heartbeat and breathing to normal for people suffering from conditions such as heart failure, breathing problems and drowning. CPR extends lives. According to the American Heart Association, when applied immediately CPR is able to reverse cardiac arrest in many people. When needed, electric shock applied to the heart within 7 to 10 minutes can also reverse cardiac arrest. The American Red Cross provides CPR training and guidelines that prepare individuals, schools, organizations and communities for cardiac emergencies.
The American Red Cross was founded in 1881. Clara Barton started the organization. Barton was an abolitionist and active in the woman's suffrage movement. She lectured on her experiences in caring for soldiers during the Civil War. After the war she worked to establish an organization in America that could respond to crisis of a large magnitude. Today the American Red Cross has more than half a million volunteers and more than 700 chapters.
The American Red Cross CPR guidelines reference mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as well as automated external defibrillators. Guidelines and training are offered in English and Spanish. Courses are geared toward treating children and adults and last 3.5 to 4.5 hours. Guidelines used during the courses teach persons how to spot and respond to emergencies such as choking on food in a restaurant or at home, shock or cardiac arrest.
Specific CPR guidelines are distributed at the actual training sessions so as to eliminate confusion about the procedures. At the training, expert certified CPR workers provide focused lectures, hands-on training and opportunities for participants to practice the procedures on a life-sized "dummy" doll. The American Red Cross also offers refresher and advanced training for currently certified CPR persons. As noted at the American Red Cross website, the training teaches participants how to work with emergency medical services, perform CPR, help a child who is struggling to breath or who is not breathing and become familiar with external defibrillators.
Basic CPR steps include calling 911 to alert medical experts to the situation and checking to see if the person is conscious. Then, place the person face-up on a flat surface. Make sure the person's mouth is not blocked with an object or food. If there is an object blocking the person's airways, you may be able to manually remove the object and again check for breathing. If the person's airway is clear and the person is still not breathing, tilt the person's head, lift the chin and check the person's breathing. Take in a deep breath and cover your mouth over the struggling person's. Give the person two breaths. Allow for 2 seconds per breath. Place your hands in the center of the person's chest. Push down on the chest 30 times. Continue the process until medical experts arrive. And again, check with the American Red Cross for detailed CPR steps and training.
The American Red Cross website offers CPR kits that you can purchase for your family, school or organization. The CPR kits include a CPR mask and responder pack, which includes gloves, antiseptic cleansing and antimicrobial wipes, hand sanitizer, tissues and a biohazard bag. Cost for the supplies is about $20. To sign up for CPR training, check with your local American Red Cross office to find out how you can register for an upcoming CPR training class. You can also check if your employer offers CPR training through its medical or business continuity programs.