Coffee Talk with Dr. Marco Coppola: Understanding CPR
Coffee Talk with Dr. Marco Coppola
North Texas weather is on a roll. Beautiful, warm, sunny days with lots of green lawns and parks, blooming flowers and birds singing in the air. We just love being outdoors. But, because we work in healthcare, we’re keenly aware of what can happen at any moment. We don’t stress about it (okay, sometimes maybe just a little) but we do like to be prepared. That got us thinking about CPR training. It’s been a few years since we’ve taken a class. Has anything changed? What are the basics we need to know to save someone’s life? We checked in with Dr. Coppola and asked him some questions.
Family Urgent Care PLUS: Good Morning, Dr. Coppola
Dr. Coppola: Good Morning! Have you been outside? It’s really nice!
Family Urgent Care PLUS: Sure is! When we’re walking, biking, swimming, hiking, running and playing sports outside in this great weather, we sometimes wonder about accidents and what we really need to know about CPR. What’s the most important basics we should know?
Dr. Coppola: Good question! The most important thing to know about CPR is to recognize when someone needs it. Someone needs CPR when they’re unconscious, pulseless, and apneic (that means not breathing) which is usually pretty easy to tell. If someone has been in accident that you’ve witnessed, or, if they’re just lying still and you can’t wake them up, then you need to spring into action. First thing is, call their name, LOUD. Are they answering? Tap or poke them. And I don’t mean a small poke, really shake them up – try to wake them like you would wake a lazy teenager. Do they respond at all? Look for signs of breathing. Is their chest moving? If none of these things are happening, you need to begin chest compressions. This person is likely not breathing and oxygen is not flowing to their brain. First thing you do: call 9-1-1 immediately. Hopefully there’s someone nearby that will do that for you. If not, run and get your phone if it’s not nearby. Put it on speaker so you can use your hands to start compressions. You’re going to need to speak to the 9-1-1 operator calmly but work fast. Don’t panic. Remember that every minute that passes without CPR decreases that person’s chance of survival by ten percent.
Family Urgent Care PLUS: OK, we remember how to do the chest compressions. Clear the obstructed airway (if there is one), begin compressions and performing mouth-to-mouth. Put the bony part of our palms on the chest along the nipple line, one hand on top of the other, and push down firmly, about 2 inches. We saw that recent guidelines have changed and there’s compression only CPR and also recommendations to not stop and check for a pulse. Why?
Dr. Coppola: Compression only CPR is performing chest compressions and not stopping for mouth-to-mouth or mouth-to-nose breathing. If you’re administering CPR to someone you know, you will likely stop for breathing. However if this is someone you don’t know, you may not be comfortable putting your mouth over theirs. As for the pulse, the average person has a hard time finding a pulse. It’s easy to miss and someone’s pulse can be very faint. Not wasting time checking for a pulse means you’re spending more time on chest compressions, which is the most important thing you could and should be doing. Keep giving chest impressions until first responders arrive. Don’t stop. Try to perform compressions to the beat of that song by the Bee Gees “Stayin’ Alive,” which is approximately 100 beats per minute.
Family Urgent Care PLUS: This is reminding us that it’s time for a CPR course. Can you help us find where to take a course to re-certify?
Dr. Coppola: Becoming CPR certified is very important and I feel something everyone should do. Particularly if you have children. If you become certified, you should become re-certified every two years. In our area, you can go to the YMCA in Frisco for certification and you can also check out the Red Cross and American Heart Association to find classes in your area.
Family Urgent Care PLUS: Thanks, Dr. Coppola.
Dr. Coppola: You’re welcome!