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Texas Emergency Management ONLINE 2017 Vol. 64 No. 6


On December 13, 2007, Congress unanimously passed a resolution to set aside June 1-7 each year as National Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and Automated External Defibrillator (AED) Awareness Week to spotlight how lives can be saved if more Americans would learn to perform CPR and use an AED.

CPR was developed to increase a person's chance of surviving cardiac arrest (a condition in which the heart stops beating). Time is of the essence when treating a cardiac arrest victim. Once the heart stops beating and blood flow stops, a person will lose consciousness within 15 seconds; within another 30 to 60 seconds, the victim will stop breathing, and irreversible damage to brain cells will follow after several minutes of oxygen deprivation.

Through CPR, chest compressions keep blood circulating throughout the body. If a person's heart has stopped, this is the most effective way to keep blood moving until proper medical care can be given. Chest compression was first documented in 1891, although the first successful recorded chest compression didn't occur until 1903. Modern CPR came about in 1960. In 2008, the American Heart Association (AHA) released additional guidelines after research showed compression-only CPR could be just as effective in an adult whose heart has stopped as combined breathing and compression. Thus, TDEM's Emergency Medical Services (EMS) section adopted "hands only" compression CPR. Compression CPR carries with it the risk of fracturing bones in the person's chest, but according to the University of Washington School of Medicine "It's better to have a cracked rib than to be dead."

An AED is used to administer an electric shock to a person in cardiac arrest by a non-medically trained person. Sudden cardiac arrest ultimately requires a shock to restore a normal heart rhythm. The use of CPR can sustain the victim until a defibrillator arrives. Using an AED along with CPR, a victim's heartbeat may be restored, giving the victim a greater chance for survival until emergency medical responders arrive. As a result, most CPR training now includes AED training.

If someone collapses and is in need of CPR, it is up to bystanders in the area to help the person until emergency medical services (EMS) arrive. One problem with this, aside from bystanders not knowing what to do, is bystander reluctance or the "bystander effect." The first step is to have someone dial 9-1-1. In the case of sudden cardiac arrest, a delay of even a few minutes can mean the difference between life and death, and each minute that passes reduces the victim's odds of survival by 10% or more. Therefore, it is critical that those on scene immediately perform CPR and apply an AED, if available, in order to increase the survival chances of a cardiac arrest victim.

TDEM's EMS section offers AED and hands only CPR training in locations across the state; since 2013, more than 5,900 Department of Public Safety (DPS) employees have been trained and AEDs have been used on multiple occasions to successfully revive a victim of cardiac arrest. It is important to take this class as it will help you to understand the importance of CPR/AED usage, and more importantly, you will be more likely to act if you have been trained properly.

Maxie Bishop, Jr., RN, EMT-P
State Coordinator, EMS
Texas Division of Emergency Management

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