Basic cardiac life support is a combination of CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, with Automated External Defibrilator (AED) training. Basic cardiac life support differs from advanced cardiac life support, in that it may be taught to members of the public, because it requires little to no specialized equipment and no administering of medications. Therefore, you must always summon more advanced medical assistance prior to starting any rescue attempt with basic cardiac life support.
- The first step in any rescue attempt is to assess the situation for danger. Look for sources of electrocution, such as a downed power line, or for other dangers such as traffic. Take action to remove any dangers prior to assessing the victim.
Shake the victim while calling out loud. If there is no response, place your ear right above the mouth and nose and check for breathing. Respirations may be agonal, or slow and nonrhythmic, or they may be absent in a cardiac emergency. Tilt the victim’s head back, pinch the nose and give two breaths, watching to make sure the chest rises. If there is no response, begin CPR. A pulse check is not recommended for community rescuers, only medical professionals.
- In 2005, the American Heart Association changed its recommendations to place a greater emphasis on chest compressions. To begin compressions, place your hands in the middle of the chest, over the sternum. It is no longer recommended to find placement markers, as the key to survival is immediate initiation of CPR. Place one hand palm down in the center of the chest, between the nipples. Cover it with your other hand and lace your fingers together. Rise up above the victim so that your arms are straight and your weight rests over your hands. Using your entire body, compress the chest wall approximately 2 inches. Always remember to allow the chest wall to fully rise after each compression. The compressions should be given at a rate approximate to 100 compressions a minute and should not be stopped for any length of time. Immediately return to compressions after respirations, shocks or other interruptions.
- As of 2005, the recommended American Heart Association ratio is 30 chest compressions to two breaths. After administering 30 chest compressions, tilt the head back to open the airway and give two breaths of approximately 1 second each. You should see the chest wall rise with each breath. If not, retilt the head and attempt again, making sure to get a good seal around the victim’s mouth. Once the breaths have been given, resume chest compressions.
AED Pad Positioning
In most cases, the only way a person will survive a cardiac event is quick intervention with a defibrillator which is why it is important to summon help before initiating CPR. In many public buildings, such as airports, there are automated external defibrillators (or AEDs). These machines are designed for community rescuers to use and contain an on-board computer that directs the rescuer.
Once obtaining an AED, immediately turn on the device and follow directions. Place the two pads on the chest wall, following the diagram. Back away from the victim and insure no one else is touching the victim. Once connected to the victim the machine will analyze the electrical rhythm of the victim’s heart and determine if defibrillation is appropriate. If so, recheck to make sure no one is touching the victim and then push the button on the machine as directed. If the machine advises against shock, return to CPR, leaving the machine hooked up. Reassess the patient after every fifth cycle of chest compressions.