A recent study from Toronto’s RESCU research project indicated that many Canadians are still reluctant to act if they witness a cardiac arrest.
The Heart and Stroke Foundation wants Canadians to know that CPR has changed, and attitudes need to catch up.
Why are so many people still afraid to take action? This fear can be dismantled, bit by bit:
Fear of hurting the person
When a person suffers cardiac arrest they won’t survive unless they get CPR quickly (within the first few minutes). Their heart has stopped beating effectively and can no longer pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs. You can’t hurt them, you can only help.
Fear of doing it wrong
CPR used to be complicated and hard to remember for many people. What was it you learned as a teenager in swimming lessons … was it 15 compressions and 2 breaths? Or the other way around?
Forget all that. CPR today is not the CPR you learned in the past.
Hands-only CPR can be done by anyone, even if you have never taken a course. First, call 9-1-1. Next, place one hand over the other in the centre of the person’s chest and push hard and fast – think of the beat of Stayin’ Alive. Keep pushing until emergency medical help arrives.
Still unsure? Across the country emergency dispatchers are taking on new roles as CPR coaches. Call 9-1-1 and the dispatcher will tell you exactly what to do. You are not alone!
Fear of doing mouth to mouth on someone you don’t know
Feel a little squeamish at the thought of mouth to mouth contact? Don’t want to do it? Then don’t.
Mouth to mouth (or rescue) breathing is no longer automatically part of CPR, particularly for people who have never taken a CPR course. Don’t let this fear hold you back from pushing hard and fast on their chest.
Fear of using an AED
Most Canadians know what an automated external defibrillator (AED) is, but many say they would be afraid to use one. No need to be afraid! AEDs are simple to use, they have voice prompts that tell you exactly what to do and, most importantly, they will only deliver a shock if the person needs it. They will not do harm! If there is an AED nearby, don’t be afraid to use it.
Seeing a person collapse from cardiac arrest can be traumatic, especially if it is someone you know or care about. That’s why the Heart and Stroke Foundation is committed to making CPR easier to learn, easier to do, and more effective. When we released new Canadian guidelines late last year, we highlighted the important role the average Canadian can play in doubling or even tripling the chance of a person surviving, just by acting quickly.
Doing hands-only CPR, even if it isn’t perfect, gives that person their best chance.
If you want to learn more (and to get hands-on practice in doing CPR and using an AED) a simple 4-hour Heart & Stroke Heartsaver course can give you that. Courses are available in communities across the country through our network of 12,000+ instructors. Learn more at www.heartandstroke.ca/resuscitation
Taking action with simple CPR is crucially important because cardiac arrest happens nearly 40,000 times each year in Canada. The vast majority happen at home or in a public place. It is so common that it barely makes a ripple in the news, yet a growing number of Canadians are alive today because someone had the courage to do CPR and use an AED.
The fear Canadians should have is that if they ever witness a cardiac arrest, they let their fear hold them back. When cardiac arrest happens, the biggest mistake you can make is to do nothing.