A Nurse’s Guide to CPR

In cardiac or breathing emergencies, knowing how to safely and correctly perform CPR can help save a life. Knowing how to perform CPR on an adult can be difficult enough. But performing CPR on a child or even a pet requires different knowledge. However, CPR knowledge is not just for those with doctor or nursing degrees. Resuscitation is a vital piece of information that everyone should be familiar with.

Before beginning the steps of CPR, it is important to check the scene as well as the person to confirm that assistance is needed. If it is clear that help is needed, you should call 911 or else direct someone else to do so. An AED should also be called for.  Keep in mind that many in the public might not be familiar with emergency procedures or how to perform CPR. After you call for assistance, you will need to open the person’s airway and tilt the head back slightly, lifting the chin. Check to see if the person is breathing. Do not wait longer than ten seconds. If you do not hear signs of breathing, start CPR. Maintain the tilted position of their head and begin rescue breaths by pinching the nose shut and placing your mouth over the other person’s, sealing it completely. Deliver two breaths to make the chest rise, then continue compressions. If the chest does not rise after the first breath, re-tilt the head before continuing. If the chest still is not rising after the second breath, it is possible the person is choking. Complete subsequent sets of one hundred chest compressions. Before resuming breaths, check the airway for an object and remove it if possible. Continue CPR until the person begins breathing, an AED arrives, or EMS and/or other medical professionals arrive. If the scene becomes unsafe or you can no longer continue due to exhaustion, then end the cycles.

An AED should be used instead of hands-only CPR if possible. However, you may not have immediate access to one in times of need. Hands-only CPR is important during those times and the recommended method of CPR if the collapsed person did not exhibit signs of choking. Hands-only CPR at this point is crucial and can save someone’s life. Knowing the proper hand placement for this type of CPR is important. Before beginning the chest compressions, you should check the scene as you would in regular CPR. Then you should place the heel of your hand on top of your other hand and lace your fingers together. Your body should be positioned so that your arms are straight and your shoulders are directly over your hands. It is important that you push hard and fast. Compressions should be at least two inches deep at a rate of one hundred compressions per minute. You can use your body weight to help administer the compressions. It’s important that you let the person’s chest rise completely in between compressions. You should stop if the person shows signs of life, EMS or another medical professional takes over, an AED arrives, the scene becomes unsafe, or you become too exhausted to continue.

Performing CPR on a child or infant is a little different. However, you should still begin by checking the scene and the child. Ask older children if they are okay, much like you would an adult. For infants, give a flick to the bottom of their foot to try and elicit a response. If there is no response, call 911 or direct someone else to do so, then administer two minutes of care. It is important to note that if you are alone with an infant or child, you should administer care and then call 911. Put the child on his or her back, tilt the head slightly, and lift the chin. Check for breathing for no more than ten seconds. Remember that infant breathing patterns are periodic so changes are normal. When administering CPR to an infant, use your mouth to cover the infant’s mouth and nose, deliver a breath for one second to check if the infant’s chest rises. If so, deliver two rescue breaths. If the child or infant stays unresponsive, begin CPR. To do so, kneel by the child, and push hard and fast. For a child place the heel of one hand on the child’s chest and the heel of the other hand on top of the first, lacing your fingers together. Deliver thirty quick compressions that are two inches deep. For infants, use two fingers to deliver the thirty compressions at a depth of one and a half inches. After the compressions, give two more rescue breaths. Continue until the child or infant begins breathing or until a medical professional or AED arrives, the scene becomes dangerous, or you are too exhausted to continue.

CPR can also be performed on your pets, should the need arise. Naturally, performing CPR on your pets is a bit different than administering medical help to a human. Begin by checking for breathing and a heartbeat. If neither is present, begin CPR with chest compressions. To give chest compressions, put your hands on your pet’s chest. For different sized pets, the placement is slightly different. Place the heel of one of your hands directly over your pet’s heart and place your other hand directly over the other for cats, small dogs, and deep-chested dogs. For deep-chested dogs, you need to place the heel of one hand over the widest part of your dog’s chest and your other hand directly on top of the first. A barrel-chested dog should be placed on its back. Place one hand over the sternum in the widest part and place the other directly over the first. Make sure your shoulders are directly over your hands and lock your elbows. Push hard and fast at a rate of one hundred to one hundred and twenty compressions per minute. The chest needs to rise fully in between each of the thirty compressions. Administer rescue breaths by closing your pet’s mouth and extending your pet’s neck to open the airway. Your pet’s nose should be fully covered by your mouth as you exhale, watching to see if the chest rises. If so, administer the second rescue breath. Repeat the cycle, checking every two minutes for signs of breathing or a heartbeat, until your pet begins breathing on its own again.