We lost another great actor this week, Michael Clarke Duncan, best known for his role in The Green Mile. He suffered a massive heart attack in July and unfortunately never recovered. However, I was impressed when I heard that when his girlfriend found him unresponsive she immediately started CPR until paramedics arrived. The fact that she did this helped the paramedics revive him.
This got me thinking. Why don’t more people start CPR( which stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation)? The research I found gave several reasons why people are reluctant to start this life saving act.
1) Many people are afraid they will harm the person. Well, when a person’s heart is not beating they are technically dead. You can’t mess up or do harm to someone who is dead. Sure you may crack some ribs while doing chest compressions but I’m sure most people would rather wake up with a few cracked ribs than not wake up at all.
2) People have no formal training so they’re not confident in their skills. The American Heart Association has changed their CPR protocol in the last few years. If we find someone unresponsive they want us to get in there and start chest compressions immediately. They don’t want us to worry about rescue breaths just start chest compressions.
Their rationale is that if a person was breathing normally before they collapsed that there should be enough oxygen in their blood to sustain them if chest compressions are started immediately. The compressions are what will get the oxygenated blood to the brain and vital organs.
When a person’s heart stops beating you only have a few minutes to get the blood flowing otherwise they could suffer brain damage.
Ideally everyone should be formally trained in CPR. The American Red Cross and most YMCA facilities offer the class in addition to many employers.
3) People are afraid they will “catch” something. In this day and age this is a legitimate concern. For this reason the AHA says start “Hands Only” compressions. Don’t worry about doing mouth to mouth or mouth to nose but you do need to start those chest compressions asap and continue until medical help arrives.
Unfortunately many people think they will never have to perform CPR or that there will always be someone else around to do it if needed. While it’s true the chances for the average person to have to perform CPR are very small we all need to be ready to jump in if needed.
You just never know. Actor Michael Clarke Duncan was healthy and in shape. I’m sure he was the last person anyone thought would suffer a massive heart attack.
Have you ever had to perform CPR? Let me know your comments below
Tasha Nelson is a registered nurse who works the night shift at a large midwest hospital. She is also a total wellness enthusiast who firmly believes in the importance of taking care of yourself. A healthy mind, body, and spirit makes for a happy person. Isn’t that what we all want?