Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, was first demonstrated in 1954 by James Elam along with Dr. Peter Safar. Safar wrote a book called “ABC of Resuscitation” in 1957. Since then the standard method of CPR has been A-B-C, as in A for airway, B for breathing and C for compressions. This is the order for performing CPR. But recently the American Heart Association (AHA) has come out with a slight variation.
The AHA suggests that the A-B-Cs of CPR be rearranged as C-A-B. In other words, the order of CPR should now be compressions first, then airway and breathing. The new AHA guidelines apply to all forms of CPR, except when performed on newborns.
Why chest compressions first? As a result of sanitary concerns some people hesitate to start with clearing the airway or performing mouth-to-mouth. Dr. Michael Sayre of the American Heart Association asserts that chest compressions alone “can be lifesaving” to many victims.
When you are performing CPR, the goal is to continue the circulation of blood. Under the original approach, there was a delay in starting the chest compressions. Those extra minutes can be critical to saving a person’s life. Dr. Sayre adds that other CPR procedures such as mouth-to-mouth are difficult to perform correctly if you are not trained.
Chest compressions are generally easy to do and you can normally be performed on a person without doing any harm. Most of the time a reserve of oxygen is left in a person’s lungs and blood following the last breath. Chest compressions performed immediately reduce the risk of a lack of oxygen flow.
The new CPR procedure is:
- Call 9-1-1.
- Roll victim on his or her back – check for medical ID jewelry for possible medical condition.
- Begin chest compressions – place the heel of your hand in the center of the victim’s chest. Place your other hand on top of the other one. Your fingers should be interlocked.
- The chest should be compressed about 2 inches for adults and children and 1 1/2 inches for infants. 100 compressions every minute is the suggested rate. Counting from 1-100 can help you keep the rhythm.
Many organizations offer CPR training and certification courses. Taking precautions such as wearing medical ID jewelry can help medical workers and even those performing CPR be aware of any medical conditions in situations where you can’t speak for yourself.