Growing Public Awareness of The Need For CPR Training
Would you know what do to if someone suffered a cardiac arrest? A recent survey by the American Heart Association found that 70% of people would feel helpless if they were first on the scene, either because they have never been shown what to do to keep someone alive until the emergency services can take over, or because their training was so far in the past they’ve forgotten everything they learned.
The importance of having as many members of the general public trained in basic CPR techniques cannot be over-estimated; 88% of cardiac arrests happen at home rather than in hospital, and taking prompt action rather than waiting for the ambulance to arrive can triple the patient’s chances of surviving. Or putting it another way, for every minute you wait before attempting CPR on someone who has experienced cardiac arrest, their chances of survival decrease by 10%. There are a variety of reasons why bystanders don’t take action, but the two most commonly given reasons are worries about doing more harm than good, or a simple lack of training in the basic techniques needed to keep blood circulating until professional help arrives.
Are Defibrillators the Answer?
In many communities around the world, fundraising is underway to provide defibrillators which are designed to be used by a member of the public if someone suffers a cardiac arrest in a public place. There are over 500 of these already in place in the UK, and the technology associated with this product means that the user is given exact instructions on where to place the pads and how to shock the patient’s heart. Using a defibrillator is an effective and safe way of saving a life and it is certainly good news that shopping centres, universities, sports venues and tourist attractions are investing in the technology. However, we’re a long way from everyone having a defibrillator at home, and as most cardiac arrests happen at home, standard CPR training is still hugely important.
Training – Voluntary or Compulsory?
In most parts of the world, first aid training is voluntary. Offices, schools and other childcare establishments will have to have a certain proportion of staff trained in basic first aid. Requirements about how rigorous this training is, and how often staff have to undergo a refresher vary hugely. Washington and Wisconsin in the United States have gone one step further and have added compulsory training in CPR techniques into the school curriculum for all High School students. Calls for similar training in the UK have been made by ambulance personnel, but are a long way from being a reality. Most countries rely on the goodwill of members of the public to come forward and present themselves for a training session, which can take as little as a couple of hours.
Training Techniques for CPR
The best way to teach someone the life saving techniques which they need to use in an emergency situation is by using a life-like manikin. This type of teaching aid has been used for decades, and as well as the standard adult models, child-sized manikins are available to teach the slightly different techniques needed for resuscitation on a small child. Training sessions generally all follow the same format; first the expert instructor will talk the participants through the basics of resuscitation and what they should do in an emergency situation, then they will demonstrate the techniques on the simulation model. The participants will then be given the opportunity to have a go at the technique themselves, while the instructor helps them to refine their technique. Some of the more advanced simulators on the market can be hooked up to a tablet, which allows the learner to see just how effective their CPR technique is and helps them to refine it to perfection.
Importance of Renewing CPR Knowledge
It doesn’t take long for people who have recently undergone CPR training to forget what they’ve been taught. The American Red Cross, one of the leading providers of emergency CPR training in the United States, has found that skill retention starts to decline after only a few months, and a year after training, only 50% of people can still pass a skills test. Refresher courses are therefore essential to maintain skills in CPR and there are a number of ways of delivering these. Perhaps the best way is to get back in a room with the instructor and a practice CPR manikin and have skills evaluated. Distance learning is also possible, with online quizzes or tests another popular way of refreshing knowledge. The obvious downside of computer based refresher courses is that there is no refreshing of the practical component of the learning, which is the most critical element of the whole CPR programme.
Would you pass a test on your CPR skills?