How To Get CPR Certified in 2017: A Definitive Guide

We men have tried to be the lifesaver of our group when we were still living caves. Today we will need more than just hunting skills to safes lives around us. Be a modern lifesaver and learn how to give first aid.
As a first aid you can provide initial care to people who have become ill or have inured themselves. Most of the time when an accident happens there is not an expert present. In those cases people that are certified first aid providers will have to give initial care to the person(s) who need it.

Most of the time these things are simple things like applying bandages. But sometimes these can be potential life-saving techniques that are applies by first aid providers such as CPR. Below we’ll go into more detail about this.

3 Aims of first aid:

  • Preserve lives: For example giving CPR to a patient.
  • Prevent further harm: For example when there is a fire and someone is unconscious you will try to move away the victim to a safer location. You can do this by applying the Rautek which you learn in first aid class.
  • Promote recovery: For example when you apply a plaster to a small wound.

Six basic principles of first aid:

  • In case of an emergency: Stay calm
  • Avoid contamination: Wear plastic gloves
  • Act as a first aid provider: When you’re needed, make sure you do your part
  • Take care of the comfort of the victim: For example protect the victim from cold by giving a blanket
  • Give psycho-social first aid: Take into account the emotions of the victim and those around him. Present yourself, talk to the person, listen to him or her, etc.
  • Take into account the emotional reactions you will have afterwards: it could be you ask yourself “Did I do enough?
  • Did I do it correct?” You will not always be able to save someone’s life so it can be difficult to handle this.

There are 4 steps in First Aid:

  1. Concern for safety: Make sure the victim is safe. For Example use Rautek to move the victim in case of a fire
  2. Assess the condition of the victim: Check if the person is still conscious. Make sure the airway is open. Check if he or she breaths normally. If the victim is unconscious but breaths normal you should put him or her in a recovery position.
  3. Alert the emergency services: In case the situation is severe contact the emergency services (call 911)
  4. Provide further first aid: In this 4th step we sometimes have to provide CPR if the victim isn’t breathing anymore.

We will talk about giving CPR in the text below.

What is CPR

CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is reanimating someone by breathing air into their lungs and giving compressions. Resuscitation is actually the combination of compressions and respiration.
Giving CPR to adults, children and babies is almost the same. There are some little differences that are important and because of this we will handle resuscitation of adults, infants and babies separately.

Why do we give CPR?

Oxygen is vital. Our blood delivers oxygen to all organs in our body. When the heart stops pumping, the circulatory of blood stops. With a cardiac arrest a shortage of oxygen appears in all vital organs.
Our brain cells are very sensitive to an absence of oxygen. They can’t be without it for longer than a couple of minutes before they start to die away.

A victim like this will lose consciousness very quickly, stop breathing and will die eventually. That’s why you need to start as fast as possible with resuscitation.

A lot of studies have shown positive results when CPR is performed immediately. Although the survival chances are small when someone has a cardiac arrest, they increase enormously when bystanders help out immediately.

What if I perform CPR incorrectly

A lot of people wonder what if I do it wrong? Will I be sued? Normally unless you’re a real physician or they can proof gross negligence from your side while performing rescue efforts you won’t be sued. You’re protected by the Good Samaritan Law.

Resuscitation of an adult

When you notice that an adult person has lost consciousness the first thing you do is ask someone for help.
Make sure you turn him on his back and make sure the airway isn’t blocked. De respiratory can halt when someone is unconscious because the muscles loose tension. Because of this the tong can fall backwards and temper the breathing.

In this case you tilt the head backwards. At the same time you put 2fingertips under the person his chin. Don’t press in the soft part of the chin because this can make breathing more difficult. Put them on the hard part of the chin.

  • Now you have made the airway clear. Now you will have to do an evaluation of the airway. Hold the head as before and put your cheek close to the mouth of the person. Look at the chest and see if it goes up and down
  • Listen to the mouth and nose to hear breathing sounds
  • Feel with your cheek if there is an airflow coming from the victim

Check for at least 10 seconds to be sure. If it is confirmed that the victim doesn’t breath anymore you will need to perform CPR.

Make sure you alarm the emergency services (or let someone else do this) and that you let someone get an AED device if there is one.

Now you start with the CPR steps:

  • Put the heel of your hand on the middle of the chest of the victim. Put the heel of your other hand on top of your first hand. Hook the fingers together and make sure they’re pull up when giving compressions. This is to make sure you don’t put pressure on the ribs.
  • Make sure your shoulders are right above the chest of the patient. Push with stretched arms the sternum 2 to 2,5 inches down.
  • Be sure that after every compression the chest comes up fully. This way the heart can fill itself again with blood.
  • Give 30 compression in a rhythm of around 100 per minute.
  • Next you need to give mouth to mouth for about a second and this 2 times. Make sure that the head is tilted back and that the chin is tilted up.
  • You keep your hand on the forehead of the patient so that it keeps being stretched and the airway keeps being clear.
  • Take your thumb and forefinger of your other hand and squeeze the nose closed.
  • Now you blow air into the mouth of the patient during one second.
  • Check that the chest goes up when blowing air into the lungs of the patient.
  • Make sure the chest goes down again and give a second respiration.
  • Both respirations may not take more than 5 seconds all together.
  • You alternate these compressions and respirations until the experts arrive or the victim becomes conscious again and starts breathing and opening his eyes or until you are really too tired to continue.
  • When and AED is available you continue the resuscitation with an AED.

The compression will make sure the blood is pushed out of the heart. So you will create a blood circulation. The mouth to mouth will provide the circulating blood with enough oxygen. This way the vital organs and brain cells will still receive oxygen.

Tip: For people that don’t like giving mouth to mouth or just for contamination reasons it is best practice to use a CPR mask.

Resuscitation of children

Resuscitating children is almost the same process as with adults. It’s not so much the age that counts, but the stature of the person. So if it’s a 14 year old boy that has the same posture like an 18 year old guy then just proceed as you would do with an adult.

Use your good judgment. Normally we speak about kids from the age of 1 until they reach puberty.
The technique for CPR of children is almost the same. But in this case you only use 1 hand on the middle of the chest instead of 2 as is the case for adults. Push the sternum until one third of the chest depth. The other hand you keep on the forehead of the infant while performing CPR so that the airway is clear the whole time.

If mouth to mouth isn’t possible you can give mouth to nose respiration. You can also use an AED for children.

Performing CPR on a baby

We speak about a baby from a newborn until the first year of age.

We perform the following CPR technique with infants:

  • Put your hand on the forehead of the baby and tilt it to the back
  • Keep your thumb and forefinger free so you can squeeze the nose tight when necessary
  • Put two fingertips from your other hands under the hard part of the chin of the infant
  • Tilt the chin up now
  • Now the airway should be clear
  • You check if the baby still breaths by performing the same checks as with adults (see above)
  • If this isn’t the case then you need to perform resuscitation. But with babies you use put 2 fingers in the middle of the chest. Push with those 2 fingertips the sternum at least a third of the chest depth deep.

When giving respirations it can be more practical to put your mouth over the nose and mouth of the infant. This way no air can disappear.

What is an AED

In the ideal case we combine resuscitation with the use of an AED. It stands for an Automated External Defibrillator. This electronic device is small and portable and often available in public locations or work environments.
It will diagnose the cardiac arrhythmias in a victim and will try to treat them by defibrillation. It will try to stop the arrhythmia so the heart can beat again at an effective rhythm.

How to use it?

  • When starting CPR ask a bystander to get an AED ASAP.
  • You already begin with performing CPR.
  • When the AED is next to you, you stop when the CPR series end and put it on and listen to the instructions. It has simple audio and visual commands which are easy to follow.
  • You will need to attach it to the chest of the patient. And make sure not to put the pads over a nipple or over metal things like piercings. Also don’t put it on a pacemaker. The machine will guide you through this process.
  • It will check the patient and if necessary it will give an electric shock. It will tell you upfront when it will give one and it will ask you to stand back. The use of an AED will increase the chances of successful resuscitation.

The use of an AED is something you will learn in First aid classes, CPR classes and Basic Life Support level CPR.

CPR Classes & Certification

There are a lot of classes to choose from and certifications you can get. There are 2 big organizations that give CPR training in the United States of America:

  • Red Cross
  • AHA or American Heart Association

These are both reputable CPR training and first aid certification organizations.

American Heart Association

This is the largest and oldest voluntary organization on American soil devoted to fighting cardiovascular diseases and strokes. It was founded in 1924 by six heart specialists. Their mission is to build healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. They try to improve the life of all Americans by providing public health education.
If you want to learn resuscitation then AHA CPR might just be your thing. They’re the leader in CPR education training in the US.

If you look here you’ll see that they offer CPR courses, as well as first aid and emergency cardiovascular care (ECC).

They have a wide variety of lifesaving courses in many different locations. You can choose between classroom training and online courses. The course style you prefer is up to you. But according to us it’s best to train your lifesaving skills in a real classroom where you will try giving CPR on manikins.

They do a lot more than just giving CPR training. Also more broad first aid training is part of their educating program. They also offer ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) and BLS (Basic Life Support) training. Besides that they are also involved in research and act also as caregiver. They give tips and advice on their website on how to live healthy.

The Red Cross

The Red Cross is an organization that was founded in 1863. Four nations formed an organization that later on became the Red Cross. Back then their aim was to aid the sick and wounded soldiers in the field.
However today the Red Cross is an international organization. The American Red Cross (ARC) was founded in 1881 by Clara Barton. The ARC helps with emergencies, disasters and provides education inside the United States.

On their website you can find a wide variety of classes. There is a first aid, CPR and AED for Lay Responders training program available for those who are interested.
It looks clearer than the courses of the American Heart Association. If you’re a novice on their site it’s difficult to find out which first aid course you should best follow.

And best of all is that the Red Cross provides some course free of charge. This includes Be Red Cross Ready which entails first aid and CPR.

Free classes & online cpr trainings

There are a bunch of free classes around. However is it worth it? Think about the quality of the classes. Isn’t it better to follow a training where you g have learned a lot and can get your certification in the end.
Free doesn’t mean better, keep that in mind. One of the sites that provide such a so called free training is first aid web. The trainings are available through their website, however to get your CPR Card and CPR certification you need to pay.

They also provide Basic First Aid (BFA) next to CPR.

Of course it’s better to know something about this all than nothing. On the other hand there is only so much you can learn by looking at a video. If you really want to train your skill set to save lives then follow a real training in a classroom instead of online sitting behind your pc.

How can you learn something if you don’t do it? You need to use a manikin so you can at least know how it feels and to learn how you can do it better. Most people don’t have a CPR manikin at home so it’s better to just follow a training in a classroom. Also other things will be discussed such as the use of a CPR mask which is more difficult to use correctly than most people believe it to be.

Different kinds of CPR classes

There are a lot of different CPR classes. These classes are targeted to their audience. Common people do not get the same training as paramedics. Knowing which level of CPR training you need is the first thing you’ll need to decide. We’ll go through them below:

Advance Cardiac Life Support

This is a set of interventions to threat a cardiac arrest and other life-threatening emergencies. However in this training you don’t use and AED anymore but you will read and interprete an electrocardiogram yourself and make decisions on giving a shock based on the monitor.

This is a more advanced course and is not aimed at lay rescuers but at healthcare professionals who participate in the management of cardiopulmonary arrest or other cardiovascular emergencies.

Basic Life Support

This is a training aimed at professional rescuers hence it is also called CPR for professional rescuers. It is a basic skillset to save lives. It promotes the ABC which stands for Airway, Breathing and Circulation.

However the AHA promotes CAB because it emphasizes the importance of compressions while doing CPR.

If you’re planning on working in the medical field this is the training you will want to follow for sure.

Pediatric Advanced Life Support

PALS is aimed at healthcare providers who respond to emergencies in infants or children. These can be physicians, nurses, paramedics or other professionals.

People who enrol for this course will have to do a written exam and skills test. At the end they will receive a PALS course completion card.

First aid classes: Adult, infant and child CPR for lay rescuers

This is the training you will need. The AHA organizes Heartsaver Courses where you will learn how to use and AED and perform CPR. At the end of this program you will receive a Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED Course Compeltion Card.

They also offer a family and friends CPR class. This is the training you are looking for amongst all the variety there is available. You can choose between a classroom based training or one that is self-directed through a personal kit.

Also the Red Cross offers a first aid, CPR and AED training. However this is always classroom based. At the end of all this your get a participation card for following the classroom based pogram.

CPR Renewal

Taking a CPR class only 1 time isn’t enough. Studies have shown that more than half of the people who had their CPR certification didn’t pass the skill test after a year.

Therefore after 2 years CPR certification expires and you need to renew it. This is needed because we don’t use this skill set every day and thus after 2 years we don’t always remember every step anymore. At the time of need you will have to act fast, so there’s no time to think about what was the correct procedure to perform CPR.

Also it could be that certain guidelines changed over time. So re-certification can also be important to be up to date with the new rules. Normally you will have to do the tests again in person. This is certainly the case with the AHA or the American Red Cross. It takes a bit of time, but think about the life you could potentially save.

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