The new CPR guidelines are out with all sorts of fanfare and media coverage. Great news and lots of new research and discussion over a critical tool that could save some of the 250,000 people who die of heart disease each year. But why not the same media focus on preventing the deaths in the first place? How about this little-seen article with the staggering headline: Analyses: Heart Attack rates fall 17% after smokingbans enacted. (that was within one year and only with public smoking bans). http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2009-09-21-smoking-bans_N.htm
You all know my feelings about CPR – everyone should learn CPR, period. I think we need a serious re-think on our priorities though, especially when there is limited funding everywhere. Educating and preventing problems isn’t glamorous. It’s like being a parent – a long-term commitment, frequently involving nudging unwilling recipients, not always fun, but with real, positive, long-term outcomes. Plenty of research to support this very unglamorous, non-headline-grabbing methodology. Educate boys and girl sand civil war decreases, poverty levels drop, economic prosperity increases.
What would happen if teaching water safety and swimming to children were mandatory? Would the death rates from drowning drop 17% or more in a year? I think so. CPR is a crucial tool to save a life, but shouldn’t our focus be on not needing the tool in the firstplace?
Did you see the latest news about CPR and how effective hands-only CPR is done to the great beat of ‘Staying Alive’? Here is one of the news clips if you missed it.
Yes, CPR can save a life, everyone should learn CPR, but thanks to one study that showed that bystanders are more likely to intervene if they don’t have to do mouth-to-mouth, hands-only CPR has gotten all the press. And it’s a great thing and has a great song (‘Staying Alive’) to help you get the right pace. And it can be very effective for an adult cardiac arrest victim. The problem is, for children and for all drowning victims, it is critical that traditional CPR, including mouth-to-mouth, be performed.
I checked to see what the latest research on the subject is and the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics has the following in an article published May 24, 2010:
CPR Training: Immediate resuscitation at the site of a submersion incident, even before the arrival of emergency medical services personnel, is an important means of secondary prevention and is associated with a significantly better outcome for children with submersion injury.2,3 For this reason, all parents and caregivers should be trained in infant/child CPR. Initial resuscitative efforts for a drowning victim should include rescue breathing as well as chest compressions when signs of circulation are absent.”Hands-only” CPR is not appropriate for drowning victims. The Heimlich maneuver is not recommended to expel water from the lungs, because positive pressure ventilation by mouth or maskwill accomplish adequate oxygenation.67 Additional CPR information and courses for parents and caregivers is available through the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross. Education for health care professionals on resuscitation of pediatric patients is available through American Academy of Pediatrics programs Pediatric Advanced Life Support (PALS) and PediatricEducation for Prehospital Professionals (PEPP).
The full text of the article can be found here:
Bottom line – if you have children, learn CPR, the traditional kind with rescue breathing and compressions. I know you wouldn’t have any problem performing mouth-to-mouth on your child if it would save their life – and that’s exactly what they would need.
Protect your child – learn CPR – with rescue breathing.
My kids took the excellent American Red Cross Home Alone class last week. Following the course I received a phone call from a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. The reporter wanted to know why I had enrolled my kids in Home Alone and at what age I’d be leaving them alone. Given the current economic climate, parents are struggling to find care for their children over the long summer holidays. Camp, activities or babysitters that parents may ordinarily rely on can be economically infeasible in a down economy and the reporter was exploring what parents were doing with their kids. I think my children are too young to be left alone (6 and 8), but every parent has to make that decision based on their situation, their children’s personalities, and a whole list of other variables. I enrolled my children because I want them to learn, and re-learn every year, how to care for themselves so that even if they are in the care of a responsible adult they will react appropriately in an emergency or dangerous situation.
When it comes to water, having a responsible adult watch children constantly is a necessity, the experts all agree that it is critical in keeping kids from drowning, but it’s only one component of keeping kids safe. But what happens when the responsible adult loses track of the child, or isn’t paying attention? I read a blog which touched me deeply. http://ourdannyboy.blogspot.com
The mother had let her beloved 4-year old spend the weekend with his rarely-present father. The 4-year old slipped out the back door while everyone was busy and drowned in their pool. The mother was focused on doing the best for her child – emotionally, physically, mentally – by encouraging a relationship with his father. If you can’t trust a child in their parent’s care, who can you trust? As a single mother myself, her story tapped into my deepest fears – if I take my eyes of my children for even a minute – will they still be safe? We assume that parents always have their child’s best interest and safety at heart, but no one can keep track of a small child 100% of the time and we need to let others watch our children sometimes. Children are hard-wired to explore their environment, it’s our job to give them the space to explore safely. Don’t feel badly about running through water safety rules, over and over, with your spouse, your ex, your babysitter, your parents or any other adult who is caring for your child. Teach your children not to go near any water without an adult and other basic water safety rules, help them become responsible children and, eventually, responsible parents to their own child. All children are at risk for drowning, whether in the care of their parent or another responsible adult, so remember….
TEACH your child water safety and swimming from infancy.
WATCH your child whenever they are near water.
PROTECT your child – learn CPR, because accidents do happen.
Two very different but similar articles caught my attention in the daily news feeds. Two stories of compassion, caring and courage. Two instances where valiant efforts were made to save a life. Where the stories diverge was in the relationships between the rescuer and the victim. In the first story CPR was attempted on the victim of a car accident. The would-be rescuer clearly was distraught and trying to help their beloved companion, instinctively using CPR to get the victim’s heart beating again. In the second story three teenagers witnessed a woman drowning, a stranger. Heedless to the lack of a ‘relationship’ with the victim, they leapt selflessly into the water, pulled the victim to safety and began CPR. In the first case the CPR was clearly untrained, a desperate attempt to revive a loved one. In the second, trained CPR may have saved the stranger’s life.
The big difference? In the first story it was a cat, in the second, people. I believe that we all possess an innate desire to help those that we love. I believe that most people would help a stranger in distress if they had the tools, the knowledge. Do you have the tools? Do you know CPR? Do you love your loved ones as much as the cat loved it’s companion? If a cat can try, so can you – get certified in CPR.
As with most things related to technology, I find that my perceptions of ‘age appropriate’ can be very dated. My 8-year old knows his way around my Mac better than I do. My 6-year old regularly checks the weather/times around the world on my phone. When I was six I didn’t know what a time zone was. If you asked me about cell phones and kids a couple of years ago I’d have probably said age 12 or 13, but life changes and the reasons to carry a cell phone change. When my teenager heads back to his other family in June, his cell phone will be designated for my younger kids to carry. Why? Because I want them to have a way to contact me easily when we are not together – whether I’ve dropped my son at soccer practice, my daughter is riding bikes with her grandfather, or they are spending the day with their dad. Then the question, what skills do I teach for using the cell phone? I’m assuming they will figure out every function on the phone within hours (and then teach me, I hope), but the most important skill is not so obvious – what to do in an emergency. One of my readers made an excellent observation that much of the time when a child calls 911 from a cell phone the dispatcher may not know where the child is located. Parents and school routinely talk about when to call 911, how to dial 911, but calling from a cell phone can be a little different. Remind your child that they need to tell the dispatcher where they are calling from, and if they don’t know, to stay on the line with the dispatcher so that person can ask questions and try to pinpoint your child’s location. For a great article about teaching your kids about CPR, Tali Orad, founder of http://www.becpr.org, recommends http://kidshealth.org/PageManager.jsp?dn=KidsHealth&lic=1&ps=307&cat_id=117&article_set=27852.
Just remember, it’s a critical difference when dialing from a cell phone, and given the attachment most kids have to their cell phones, they are likely to use the cell phone to dial 911. Make sure they know that they have to tell the dispatcher how to find them and to stay on the line until the dispatcher tells them to hang up. You’ve given your child a big responsibility and an important tool to staying safe, make sure they know how to use it properly.
Who has lost track of your child for a minute? A few minutes? Come on, I know I’m not the only one who has had that shot of pure panic at Target when one kid was begging for a toy and the other decided to play hide-and-seek under the clothing racks. Or how about at the airport when you are scanning the carousel for your luggage and suddenly realized your kids aren’t right next to you? At the playground? In a museum? The zoo? The list is endless but fortunately in most of those places, you and your child will be safely reunited within seconds, or at least in a few minutes with the help of police/store intercom/helpful strangers.
Unfortunately, there are the worst cases – where your child’s life is in danger because you lost track of them for a few precious minutes. We hear terrifying stories of abductions that make us more vigilant, but do you know the most dangerous place to lose track of your child? Near water. A new study by Ruth Brenner in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, emphasizes once again that increased supervision of children while around water is needed to prevent drowning – a leading cause of injury-related death in children. I love the water. My kids love the water. Our best time spent together often involves being in or around water – pools, ocean, lakes, Chicago’s Millenium Fountain – but I know that is also one place where I can’t afford to lose track of them for even 2 minutes. I’ll teach my kids water safety, I’ll make sure they are strong swimmers, I’m certified in CPR – but part of water safety is knowing that I need to watch them, constantly.
I love stories where ‘ordinary’ people are inspired to bring a positive change to their environment. Laura Van Straaten saw someone performing CPR on a stranger in her neighborhood last winter and decided she should learn CPR so that if the time came, she could be a Good Samaritan (someone who helps a stranger in need). Good for her! But then she took it to the next level and approached New York Sports Clubs and they generously agreed to offer hour-long CPR classes in their gyms, taught for free by members of the brave professionals at the New York Fire Department. Thanks to one person’s idea, New York is a safer place to be for everyone. Wouldn’t it be great if you could marshall the resources in your town or city to do the same?
For more information, check the story at: http://www.ny1.com/6-bronx-news-content/features/112905/-i-nyer-of-the-week—i–cpr-enthusiast-helps-others-learn-how-to-save-lives