A child, who can’t swim, jumps into the deep end of the swimming pool. A man chokes on his food while eating in a restaurant. A friend goes into shock. A woman faints. All of these scenarios share common ground. They all include a victim who is lacking oxygen. People need to know what to do in these emergency situations.
Approximately 330,000 people die annually because they do not reach the emergency room in time. This number would decrease rapidly if the emergency room paramedics weren’t the only ones who know what to do. Recently, I was at a friend’s house. There was a platter of candy and gum near us, and her little sister was inhaling more of it than could fit in her mouth. She started choking. We all started screaming, but not really doing anything. We were five girls who had no clue what to do. Yet, just knowing a few simple steps can save a person from possible brain damage.
First off, if someone can talk or breathe, they aren’t choking. Have them continue to cough until their airway is clear. There are certain signs that can tell you if someone is choking. For example, if a baby is choking, his or her skin will change to a reddish color, and then turn blue. An adult’s neck might start to bulge, and his or her face will turn red and puffy. If you are qualified, and you see that someone is choking, start to employ CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Place a fist below the victim’s ribcage and do thirty rapid compressions in less than eighteen seconds, but on a child or infant, remember to do the compressions in a more gentle manner.
There is a mnemonic device that can help you remember the steps to follow in an emergency situation: DR911ABCD.
D-DANGERS. Look around you and make sure that there are no dangerous objects near the victim, such as fire, glass, gas, or open wires. Assess the victim.
R-RESPONSIVENESS. Check to see if the victim is responsive. You can do this by inquiring as to whether he or she is okay and if you can help.
911- Call 911 and report your emergency.
A-AIRWAYS. Make sure that none of the victim’s airways are blocked.
B-BREATHING. Make sure the victim is breathing
C-CIRCULATION. If the victim is not breathing, start doing CPR. After four to six minutes without oxygen the heart will stop beating. Brain damage is certain after ten minutes, so time is of the essence.
D-DEFIBRILLATION. If the victim is not breathing, and the CPR has had no effect, use a defibrillator. An AED (automated external defibrillator) interprets heart rhythms. Two heart rhythms can mean cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating. Ventricular Fibrillation (VF), when the heart is shaking like jelly, and Ventricular Tachycardia (V-Tac), when the heart pumps 200-300+ a minute. Chances of survival decrease 7-10% for every minute waiting for defibrillation.
The DR911ABCD measures can be used for most emergencies, in addition to hypothermia (when the body temperature is 95 degrees or lower), and shock (when there is a lack of oxygen in body tissue).
This past summer, my two-year-old cousin was at the pool. As the whole area emptied, he ran back, alone. He slipped and fell in the deep end. He didn’t know how to swim, so he sank to the bottom. The lifeguard on duty didn’t see him. She finished up and started to walk out. Glancing down, she saw a blue form at the bottom of the pool. Instinctively, she dove in and pulled him out. Screaming for help, she started to do CPR. My cousin was brought to the hospital, and now, Baruch Hashem, he is fine. His parents have started a program called Project Moshe- Learn to Save a Life.
Do you want to be ignorant or knowledgeable? The information that you can acquire may be the very thing that saves someone. While you may convince yourself that this isn’t something you need, trust me, you do. It could be your mother, sister, cousin, or best friend. Don’t take the risk! Learn CPR, and learn how to save a life.