Thursday, November 17, 2011

What Are the Chances?

If you went into cardiac arrest, right now, what are the chances that you'd survive?

I did some research, came up with a bunch of statistics and websites and stuff, but I've decided not to use them or link to them. It isn't the specific numbers that are important here. None of those percentages matter to individuals. What matters to YOU is your specific situation.

I first learned CPR when I was about 8 years old.
I have re-certified many times since then, going through probably every version of CPR that has been taught at least once.

It seems to me that CPR is a skill everyone would want to have. Who doesn't want to possibly save a life? Or, more importantly, who would want to have to stand there, not knowing what to do, when something so simple might help save a life?  Wouldn't that feel terrible?!?

But as it turns out, it apparently ISN'T something that everyone, or most people want to know.

I did an informal survey of a group of students.
NONE of them said they knew how to do CPR.
These were college students.
About 40% said that they had taken a CPR class at some point in their lives, but had forgotten how to do it, and weren't certified anymore.
When I said I wasn't interested in current certification, I just wanted to know who would know what to do, none of them thought they would. Not one.

One student said that "the problem" is that while everyone is taught CPR in high school, they have no opportunity to practice it in their daily lives, so they forget how.

It depends on your daily life, I think. :-)

But wait... where is EVERYONE taught CPR in high school?
Not around here.
I have heard of some places, but I would guess that there are far fewer schools that teach it than there are who don't.
I think it would be great if everyone was taught CPR in high school. Or middle school. Or even elementary school.

The local University requires students to pass a swimming test in order to graduate.
I think they should replace that with requiring CPR certification.

The average person- who does not know CPR- has no understanding whatsoever of how important it is to begin CPR as soon as possible, preferably immediately. They are caught up in that fantasy of heroes coming to rescue people, and don't understand that time is SO not on our side in this. The best chance someone is going to get is if someone sees them collapse, and starts CPR right then- far sooner than even the fastest rescue squad or ambulance could ever get there.

So back to my original question.
Where you are, right now,  how many people do you have with you who know CPR?
If you were to suddenly collapse, how long would it be before someone could start CPR?
If you have to wait for rescue to arrive, things don't look so good.
If you DO have someone right there who can start compressions, you're in luck!

Now for the next piece of the puzzle, the next link in the "Cardiac Chain of Survival."
Where is the closest AED?

Where you are, right now, is there one in the building?
If so, your chance of survival just went up.
If not...
How long will it take for one to be brought to you?
Is there one in a nearby building, that someone could run to get? Are you somewhere that the cops carry them, and can one get to you quickly? Or do you have to wait for the fire dept or ambulance?
The average person, who learns most of their medical "facts" from watching TV, may not realize that CPR alone isn't going to save people. They need defibrillation.
Great CPR can buy you some time for that AED... but most people don't perform great CPR.

If you have someone who can call 911 right away, start compressions immediately, and you have an AED right there, your chances are much better than not. If you also live where ALS care will arrive quickly, and the hospital is close, you have a better than average chance of having the possibility of survival.
If not...

If not, things don't look so good for you.
And unfortunately, most people are in this group.

Encourage everyone you know to learn CPR. Encourage your employer and other local businesses and gathering places to participate in a Public Access Defibrillation program.
When it comes down to it, what matters isn't so much what YOU know or what you can do, it's what those around you can do, and WHEN they can do it.

This is important no matter where you are.

If you are out in the middle of nowhere, where EMS is more than 4 minutes away, then it is CRITICAL that as many people as possible know CPR, and that public places have AEDs available.

You may also consider cleaning up your diet, getting on that treadmill, and praying a lot, or something.

Unfortunately for me... my personal situation is NOT the best possible. I have a few things going for me, a few more not in my favor. Most of the ones not in my favor, I can't change unless I live somewhere else.

But at least I know it.

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