Saturday, December 31, 2011

Too much TV?

I teach a couple of classes every Saturday. It being New Year's Eve, I wasn't sure everyone would be able to come to class, so I combined the two for the day.

Nearly everyone showed up, so we had twice the number of people we usually have. It was great!

Before class, while people were arriving, we were talking about some stuff, just shooting the bull. I don't remember how the subject came up, but I asked the class how many of them knew CPR.

This was not an EMS related class, and the age range was from about 9 to 16.

One student raised his hand.

Then I asked them how many of them WANT to know CPR, and they all raised their hands. Hmm. We'll need to remedy that as soon as possible.

We had a brief discussion about how there are people who don't want to know CPR, and what their reasons might be.

Then I asked a question I had never asked a group of students before.

"If someone goes into cardiac arrest, and there is a person there who starts CPR, what percentage of the time do you think it saves the person? How often do you think the person survives?"

The answers were stunning.

The LOW estimate was 73% of the time.
The high estimate: "I guess it always does."

I think we're raising a generation of people who see CPR on TV all the time- and on TV, if they show CPR, the person almost always survives. There is an occasional "We did all we could," but most of the time, they start CPR, and then SHOCK THEM OUT OF ASYSTOLE (which is another HUGE beef I have with EMS on TV!) and the person wakes up, coughs a couple of times, and then is walking and talking as if nothing ever happened.

Makes for dramatic television, I suppose. For people who aren't popped right out of their willing suspension of disbelief by such things.

But I don't think it does real people any favors.

My students today were very surprised to hear that CPR doesn't save everyone, or even nearly everyone, or really, all by itself, anyone at all.

We had a short discussion of the cardiac chain of survival.

The good part is that they were all very interested.
As if no one had ever told them any of this before.

The bad part? No one had ever told them before.

How are we getting kids up to high school age without ever hearing this information, without ever learning CPR? Without ever learning basic first aid?  This is a large part, I think, in how we end up with a population that has no idea how to take care of itself, so they call 911 for a finger cut.

If I were in charge...
First aid skills would start in preschool. Parents would be teaching them right from birth.

It's not like stopping bleeding and putting on a band-aid is such a difficult skill.

I sure as heck wouldn't leave it up to TV.
Don't get me wrong, I don't have a problem with TV, per se. I think it's a very useful medium. You can learn a lot from TV, and find a wide range of entertainment.

It's just when it teaches something that isn't true, that I have a problem. And this is one of those cases.

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