CPR training urged for all

November marks CPR Awareness Month in Canada, and St. John Ambulance encourages everyone to learn the life-saving skills

November marks CPR Awareness Month in Canada, and St. John Ambulance encourages everyone to learn the life-saving skills.

CPR, or cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, is a critical life support skill for use in emergency situations where a person is unresponsive and not breathing normally. By combining the basics of artificial respiration and artificial circulation, CPR enables oxygenated blood to reach the brain and other vital organs, until either the heart starts beating or medical assistance takes over. Artificial respiration provides oxygen to the lungs, while artificial circulation causes blood to flow through the body.

When the heart stops, brain damage can occur after just four minutes. After 12 minutes, the chance of survival drops to about five per cent. When time is of the essence, knowing CPR can not only prevent brain damage, but can also save a life.

“It would be great if we could get to a point where not knowing CPR is as unacceptable as drinking and driving,” said Keith Tyler, Senior Training Specialist with St. John Ambulance (BC and Yukon). “It’s the one thing that anybody can do to save a life. Anybody can do it, and everybody should know how – it’s a tragedy that people die because bystanders don’t know CPR.”

Four out of five sudden cardiac arrests occur at home or in public places, which is why everyone needs to be trained in CPR.

“Am I doing it right? Am I hurting them?” – these thoughts tend to cross people’s minds when faced with an emergency requiring first aid such as CPR.

Thankfully, all you need is your hands and some know-how. CPR training involves teaching the correct method for performing chest compressions and rescue breathing to help prevent brain damage or death. Training also includes how to practice Good Samaritan principles, which protect individuals from liability who step in to provide first aid.

CPR practice on a manikin helps build muscle memory and the confidence needed to respond quickly to an emergency. Classroom practice will teach you how to best position your hands, as well as how fast and how deep to compress the chest.

What type of situation might require CPR? Here are a few cases where a person may become unconscious and stop breathing:

• Choking

• Drowning

• Hypothermia

• Heart Attack

• Sudden cardiac arrest

The best way to learn CPR is by taking a St. John Ambulance CPR course. St. John Ambulance certifies more than 550,000 people each year in first aid and CPR in Canada – with each person trained becoming a vital link in what’s known as the Chain of Survival.

To register for a course, contact your local St. John Ambulance branch or visit www.sja.ca.