This blog was written by Lynn Bemenderfer, M.D., FACOG.
“Thank you, I have more time with my wife and kids and I am forever grateful…”
CPR saves lives! CPR – or Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation – is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating. Within seconds of cardiac arrest, a person becomes unresponsive and no longer has a pulse. Circulation in the body stops. Death occurs within minutes if the victim does not receive treatment. Immediate CPR greatly increases one’s chance for survival, but an unfortunate fact is that the percentage of people who have CPR training is low.
Cardiac arrest often occurs in public places. Non-specific symptoms, such as chest discomfort, palpitations, shortness of breath and weakness may precede a cardiac arrest, but usually there are no warning signs. Sudden cardiac arrest occurs most frequently in those with coronary heart disease, often previously undiagnosed. Survival is dependent on the prompt delivery of CPR.
Training in CPR and in the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) are provided by organizations such as the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross. A two-year certification in CPR can be obtained in a classroom setting for both the educational and hands-on skills session. Online learning for the educational portion with a hands-on skills session completed with a CPR instructor is also available.
CPR guidelines are designed to be simple, practical, and effective. If a collapse is witnessed, call 9-1-1, check the victim for a pulse and start CPR immediately. Push HARD and FAST. Chest compressions are given at a rate of at least 100 per minute, with a depth of compression of 2 – 2.4 inches, with minimal interruptions. Current CPR recommendations state that bystanders omit mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and use hands-only chest compression CPR. If an AED is available, turn it on, and follow the prompts. If two or more people are available to help, one should begin CPR while the other calls 9-1-1 and finds an AED.
I share this information for educational purposes and in recognition of my brother, Brad Serf, who in the month of Heart Health Awareness and on the day of love – February 14, 2019 – saved a life. Brad witnessed the collapse of the father of a swim team member while at his son’s college conference swim meet in Ohio. Brad did not hesitate to jump into action. He was the first responder who began and continued CPR as an AED was obtained and used successfully to regain a heartbeat.
Resuscitation from out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrest is successful in only one-third of patients, and only 10% of all patients are ultimately discharged from the hospital without sequelae. Immediate response with high-quality CPR is the difference-maker. I encourage all to take a CPR course to learn the lifesaving skills of CPR and the use of an AED. Sponsor a group CPR class at your workplace. Take advantage of CPR kiosks in shopping malls and airports, which provide a practice manikin and touch screen to give performance feedback. Know the locations of AEDs in the public places you frequent.
Brad first became certified in CPR by the Marshall County, Indiana Red Cross as a teenager during his years as a lifeguard. His training and response many years later made an invaluable difference in the lives of many. This fellow swim father and his family are forever grateful. He survived cardiac arrest and was released from the hospital several days later. Brad received a call from the patient who simply stated, “Thank you, I have more time with my wife and kids and I am forever grateful.” He will watch another swim meet – thanks to CPR, and thanks to the quick actions of a good Samaritan who knew CPR.
Dr. Bemenderfer is an OB/GYN physician in Indianapolis and a Gibson client.
Brad Serf, CPCU, ARM, MBA is a Principal at Gibson and leads the Construction and Surety Practice