Got issues? Fort Wainwright's Customer Management Services has solutions - FMWRC - US Army - 100909

A couple of weeks ago, we made our way over to the local community center for a class on first aid and CPR for babies and children. The workshop was only three hours long–we opted against the more comprehensive eight-hour session–and it was meant to provide us with the basic skills needed to address an emergency situation involving infants, toddlers and children.

The assumption was that the biggest lessons we’d take home from a first aid and CPR class would be the actual mechanics of applying first aid and CPR to babies. And while those steps are certainly important, they weren’t the most profound or the most important lessons.

Prioritize Your Actions Based on Time

You come across a child who has seemingly fallen off a swing set. He has big gash on his knee and the blood is pouring out. What do you do? The natural inclination for most people is to address the wound first. However, if this little boy isn’t crying, you could have a far more serious problem. Is he conscious? Is he even breathing?

It can and will be very easy to get caught up in the heat of the emergency situation and it can get really stressful really quickly, but it is important to stop and consider your list of priorities first. A broken bone needs to take a backseat if there is a more pressing issue related to the airway and breathing. Similarly, if a baby is choking, it is better to encourage her to cough it out than it is to pat on her back, lest you nudge the blockage further down her windpipe.

CPR Revival Rate Is Only Five Percent

Hollywood has a nasty habit of embellishing or exaggerating real world situations. We all have this image in our heads that, by performing CPR, the victim will suddenly start sputtering and “come back to life.” We have this expectation that perfectly-performed CPR will result in some change in the victim.

The fact of the matter is that this will only be observed five percent of the time. Five percent. If that is indeed the case, then why should we bother?

Two reasons:

  1. Five percent is still much better than zero percent.
  2. The objective of CPR is not to “revive” the patient; the objective is to get oxygen to the brain. The time between clinical death (when the heart stops beating) and biological death (“brain-dead” or permanent death) is only a matter of minutes. The brain needs oxygenated blood and that’s all CPR is doing. The goal is to keep the person in this suspended state until the paramedics arrive.

Depending on your perspective, this can sound awfully depressing or cautiously optimistic. What it means is that even if a person stops breathing and their heart stops beating, they still have a chance if you keep up with the CPR until the medical professionals arrive. Don’t stop, even if you see no change.

All That Fancy Tech Means Nothing Unless…

The baby product market is confusing and overwhelming at the best of times. While you may stress out about whether this stroller is better than the other, that decision ultimately doesn’t mean too much. And when it comes to infant safety, there are countless baby monitors, including more advanced units that check for breathing, heartbeat and movement from a sleeping baby.

However, it doesn’t matter how much stuff you buy if you don’t know what to do when your fancy baby monitor shows that the little one isn’t breathing. Knowing the basic fundamentals of first aid and CPR can literally mean the difference between life and death.

This is not an advertisement or an endorsement for the specific CPR course we took. But if you are a parent, grandparent or caregiver for a little one, I highly recommend you consider taking a similar class… with the hope that you’ll never need to use what you learn.