(Personal note: I'm sorry this post is a day late. I've been making routine trips to Urgent Care these past few days, so finding time to write has been hard. But here it is!)
Today's post will give you the basic guidelines for some life-saving techniques. After all, who hasn't wanted to be a hero?
CPR: Or, How To Get the Lifeguard to Kiss You
We've all heard a corny "mouth-to-mouth" pick-up line before. CPR has been a comedy goldmine for many years. But what is it and how does it work?
CPR stands for Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation. In normal-people speak, CPR is how we restart (resuscitate) someone's heart (cardio) and lungs (pulmonary). Think of the heart and lungs like a Swiss watch. Normally, the heart beats at a steady pace and the lungs inflate and deflate without us thinking about them. Every minute of every day that you've been alive, your heart and lungs have been there for you.
|If only ALL watches were so reliable...|
When and How to Do It
There are signs to look for before administering CPR on someone. For instance,
|This student does not need CPR. He is sleeping.|
Second, call for help. You're probably not a doctor or paramedic, so it's good to get someone there who is.
Third, start chest compressions. This will keep the person's heart beating, which is a priority. Lace your fingers together and put the heels of your hands against the center of the victim's chest. Press down through your elbows, hard, and wait for their chest to rise before pushing down again.
If you're not comfortable giving mouth-to-mouth, or you're not properly trained to do so, continue steady chest compressions until help arrives.
And it's as simple as that. Congratulations, hero, you might have just helped save a life.
In the heat of the moment, you might be tempted to push too hard. CPR has been linked to rib injuries, espcially in the elderly. Some bruises are a small price to pay for returning from the dead, but still, be mindful of just how hard you're pressing.
The Heimlich Maneuver: Or, The Bear-Hug of Life
The Heimlich Maneuver is another popular first aid technique. Although it's not made fun of as much as CPR, there's still some comedy to be found. For instance, the Heimlich Maneuver helps someone who is choking by forcing the object out of their throat. The irony here is that it's hard to say "heimlich" in a German accent without spitting.
Unlike CPR which can be used in a variety of circumstances where the heart has stopped, the Heimlich Maneuver is only used when someone has an object in their windpipe and cannot breathe.
How You Do It
First, check to see if the person is coughing. If they are, that means their airway isn't completely blocked and they could correct the problem themselves. If they're not, position yourself behind the choking victim. It would be nice of you to tell them what you're doing before the next part, or else they might get some funny ideas.
Second, make a fist with one hand and place it between their belly-button and their ribcage. Cover that fist with your other hand. You should now be hugging them from behind. See why that introduction was important?
|"Hello! I'll be the one saving your life today."|
Continue the sharp pulls to the stomach until the object in the throat has become dislodged. Take a break after every five compressions to check the person's mouth - if the object is visible, pulling it out would be better than squeezing them again.
What you've done is you've squeezed (squozen?) the choking victim's diapgrahm - it's a shelf of muscle in the gut that controls deep breathing. By pressing into it, you force air through the lungs and up the windpipe. If you'd prefer an analogy: the windpipe is a straw and the lodged object is a spitball. Only by putting enough air pressure behind that wad of paper will it fly out.
Just like with CPR, the Heimlich Maneuver can be very damaging. Aside from inducing vomiting, the maneuver can also crack ribs and bruise internal organs.Always have a choking victim go to the hospital after the administration of the Heimlich Maneuver.
Get Certified, Be a Hero
Nothing makes you feel quite as cool as having a card in your wallet that says, "I know how to save lives." Even though that's not what a certificate of first aid actually says, spending some time learning these techniques from officials could very well mean the difference between life and death. If you're curious where you can take first aid classes in your neighborhood, check out the Red Cross website.