Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a first aid technique used to help people who are not breathing or who have no heartbeat. CPR combines rescue breathing along with chest compressions to buy the victims some time in emergency situations to help them survive until the medics arrive. For those offering assistance, it is important to know proper CPR technique and to realize that, depending on the age of the victim, the techniques are different.
For the purposes of CPR, any individual who is age 9 or older receives adult CPR. Although the ideal scenario for CPR is a combination of rescue breathing along with chest compressions, if you have never been trained in CPR, you might just want to try the chest compressions without attempting the breathing. But before you start CPR, you need to determine if the victim is conscious. In order to do so, tap the individual on the shoulder and ask, “Are you okay?”
Once you have determined that the person needs assistance, place two fingers at the sternum. The sternum is the place where your lower ribs meet. Once you have found the sternum, you need to place the heel of your other hand above your fingers. This is the spot your will be performing the chest compressions. In order to do so, you should place one hand on top of the other, interlacing your fingers. Lock your elbows and use your body weight to push down on the victim’s chest. You should push down between one and a half and two inches. Compressions should be performed at the rate of approximately three every two seconds. If you are combining chest compressions with breathing, you should do 15 or 30 compressions and then two breaths. If you are not helping the victim breathe, you just continue a steady pace of compressions and continue until either the paramedics arrive or you see signs of revival from the victim.
If you are dealing with a child (ages 1 to 8), be especially careful to place your hands in the correct position. To find the right place, place two fingers at the sternum and then put the heel of your other hand directly on top of your fingers. Because a child is smaller and more fragile, less pressure is needed when administering compressions. You will use only one hand and press down no more than one inch. If you hear or feel a slight cracking sound, use less pressure on your subsequent compressions. For children, it is more important that you breathe for them during CPR. Usually you need to do five compressions for every breath, performing this cycle twenty times before checking the child’s vital signs. If there are no signs of life, then you should continue this procedure until help arrives.
Babies under the age of one are very prone to improperly performed chest compressions because they have very delicate ribcages, so you have to use a great deal of caution when trying to rescue an infant. To find the right place on the chest to do compressions on a baby you need to place three fingers in the middle of the infant’s chest. The top finger should be on an imaginary line parallel to the infant’s nipples. Raise your top finger up and only compress with your bottom two fingers. The compression should only be about one half inch deep. Perform five compressions followed by a breath, repeating this cycle twenty times before checking the baby’s breathing and pulse. If you get no response, you need to continue your CPR efforts until the ambulance arrives.