Tuesday, September 6, 2011

CPR 2009

Husband and I took a CPR course here yesterday offered by the Red Cross. All chapters give it for free once a year. And if you’ve never taken such a course I highly recommend it. We did it about 15 years ago and things have changed quite a bit since then. Instead of five heart thrusts and two breaths, you do thirty to two.

The majority of folks taking it was up there in years, including the ones who volunteered to give it. Perhaps because we live in an area with a higher aged population. I hope it’s that, because it’s really the young folk who should be learning these skills for their children and all us old folk.

There were two sessions - one in the am one in the pm and two groups of about 18 in each. First you watch a seemingly ENDLESSLY BAD video. Endless because it wasn’t working right (or perhaps our dear leader was not savvy to the ways of DVD machines.) It seems whether it’s a DVD or home movie, the end results are always the same...gnashing of teeth. Being a professional actor also helped make the video experience excruciating. Watching industrials (as we call them in the trade) is almost as boring as acting in them. First, they’re horribly written, second they’re terribly directed and third they’re terribly acted. That don’t leave you with much entertainment value. However we’re not watching them to be entertained. I might venture to say that we might learn more if it WERE entertaining in the process but....

So we’ve got the requisite pc multicultural group on the film taking us through our paces. They describe what must be done AS they are doing it.

1. Check the surrounding area. Which makes sense. If you were to walk in and see a bunch of snakes eating someone you might run in the opposite direction.

2. Assuming all is safe and the guy ain’t lying in a puddle of water with an electrical cord dangling in it, you go over and assess the situation. Give him a good poking and shout “ARE YOU OK?” If he were OK he probably wouldn’t be lying there looking like he was dead, but ya never know!

3. Call for help - assuming you have a cell phone (which we never use) or maybe there’s someone nearby (like the rest of the world) that has one happily radiating into their ear. You would instruct them by saying loudly, “CALL 911! HE’S UNCONSCIOUS!” Why you have to add the “He’s unconscious” provider - who knows. I’m just explaining what we were seeing on the video.

4. Care. Put your ear up against the guy’s mouth (after you’ve tilted his head back to open his airway) and see if you can hear any breathing as you simultaneously look down at his chest to see if it’s moving up and down at all. Wait 10 seconds. Count them like this: one-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand. (I have a recollection of this same counting method when I was taking parachute lessons. One-one thousand, chute should open, two-one thousand, chute should open, three-one thousand, something wrong, four one-thousand, look up to determine what’s wrong..., five - one thousand - oh oh....but that’s another story.) I’m thinking this guy could have been lying here for 10 minutes and I’m supposed to wait another TEN SECONDS? Ten seconds can be one heck of a long time. Especially when you’re dropping through space or on your way to dying. Which are probably both one and same. But whaddo I know. If he seems dead, he probably is, but you carry on nonetheless.

You then get out your trusty CPR mask and put it over his mouth. Or your trusty mouth barrier against any and all diseases. Yeah, right. By the time you’ve fished it out of your pocket (should you actually HAVE one) opened it, inserted it into his mouth - probably another 60 seconds have gone by. If you’re a woman and have it in our purse, the guy will probably be long gone by the time you fish it out between the lip gloss, hand desanitizer, rat comb, mascara, candy bar and calorie counter.

So, you’ve got the mask on and you’ve tilted his head back. Now pinch his nose closed and give him two breaths lasting about a second each. If you’re too forceful with your breath or do it too long, the air may go into his stomach. And if THAT occurs he’ll probably throw up. NOT a pleasant prospect to then put your mouth back on his (assuming you don’t have the necessary mask/barrier). As I’m sure one of my fellow actors discovered when I ‘d had a bit too many martinis the night before a matinee and did not do well. Turning upstage and actually barfing as unobtrusively as possible into my purse. He was playing my fiancee’ and had to KISS me shortly thereafter. But that’s another story too....

If the breaths you are putting out don’t go in, i.e. you don’t see the chest rise (my CPR doll did not have that capacity, some do), you check to see why not. Could it be that their false teeth have been knocked halfway down their throat? Or perhaps they’ve inhaled an apple and it’s stuck in their craw. A cannibal spear through the throat maybe? Whatever the obstruction, remove it and try again. Assuming air now goes in....

Give 30 quick heart thrusts in 18 seconds. That’s at a count of “one and two and three and four.” Or about two per second. It’s ok if in the panic of the moment you lost count. The guy’s probably way dead, so it won’t matter much. Chances of a revival using this technique are slim. But hey - ya never know, right? And how grateful would you feel if you actually managed to jump start somebody. And how rotten when it doesn’t work.

So you continue giving 30 pumps to 2 breaths until either help arrives or exhaustion occurs. Or the guy starts breathing. HA! Fat chance. And that’s why it’s real important to call 911 so help is on it’s way. ‘Cause you’ll be so exhausted after about five minutes of this you’ll be about ready for CPR yourself!

We also learned the Heimlich Maneuver, which they can no longer call the Heinlich Maneuver because his estate apparently now CHARGES money every time the name is mentioned. I don’t know, but if I were Mr. Heimlich, I’d prefer that the technique I created to save lives had my name on it - even if it were for FREE!

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