Sunday, March 29, 2009

It Almost Never Works...

... but it's not a waste of time.

I've been trained in CPR for about 20 years. I've seen it performed many times but I've never had an opportunity to put my training into use until last night.

Here's the situation:

Wife finds 60-year-old husband collapsed and unresponsive next to the bed. She calls 9-1-1. The dispatchers coach her as she starts CPR.

We arrive minutes later.

My first thought as I walked in the room was, "He's dead." He's not breathing and has no pulse. He's lying on his back next to the bed. His face is blue and his eyes are open and unresponsive. We move him to the middle of the room.

My partner starts chest compressions. My other partner opens his airway. I fumble with my air-mask (I should have practiced putting it together). I finally put it together and start rescue breathing.

We continue for several minutes until the experts arrive. They transport the patient to the hospital after working on him for about ten minutes. The paramedics tell us he has a chance.

He's pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the ER.

My partner says, "I'd like to see someone recover just once."

CPR is useful only to keep blood flowing through a victim's body until they get to the hospital. It's not like the movies where the victim coughs, draws in a deep breath, opens his eyes and lives happily ever after. If you need CPR, you are probably already dead.

But here's the deal - unless the victim shows obvious signs of death (rigor mortis, lividity, decomposition, decapitation) - you start CPR.

We owe it to the family to do everything we can to save their loved one.

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