Do you know how to do CPR? It’s easy, right? Just compress someone’s chest and then give them mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. That’s all there is to it. But, if somebody does collapse where there are witnesses, studies show that there is only a 1 in 3 chance that they will receive CPR. There are many reasons for this, but one is that a lot of people, fearful of communicable diseases, will not perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, and therefore will not perform CPR, even if they know how to do it.
So, after much deliberation, the American Heart Association has begun to promote a new type of CPR, called “Hands-OnlyTM CPR” (http://handsonlycpr.org/).
Hands-OnlyTM CPR is CPR without mouth-to-mouth breaths. It is recommended for use by people who see an adult suddenly collapse in the “out-of-hospital” setting (like at home, at work, in a park). It consists of two steps: First, call 911 or send someone to do that. Second, begin providing chest compressions by pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest with minimal interruptions. That’s it. No mouth-to-mouth, just chest compressions. Doing this can save a life, and it is extremely easy to learn.
Any attempt at CPR is better than no attempt. Hands-OnlyTM CPR has been shown to be as effective as conventional CPR when given in the first few minutes of an out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest. Conventional CPR may be better than Hands-OnlyTM CPR for certain victims, such as infants and children, victims of drowning and adults whom you did not see collapse.
The AHA has produced a 22-minute CPR training program where you can learn how to perform high quality chest compressions, all in the comfort of your own home! (http://www.cpranytime.org/). You can also find information about instructor-led CPR courses by going to www.americanheart.org/cpr or calling 1-877-AHA-4CPR.
There is a new type of CPR which is easy to learn, can save lives, and does not involve mouth-to-mouth breathing. This should allow bystanders to overcome some of their reluctance to perform CPR on a stranger if they witness someone collapse. We urge you to learn how to perform Hands-OnlyTM CPR as soon as possible. You never know when it might be your turn to save someone’s life.