During the last week of February, students at Southern Methodist University (SMU) can learn the CPR skills they need to help save someone’s life, in less time than it takes to watch a 30-minute TV show.
Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital will be providing the instructors to teach Hands-Only CPR, as recommended by the American Heart Association (AHA).
“What we’ve learned is that the most important part of CPR is continuing circulation,” said Kevin Wheelan, MD, chief-of-staff at Baylor Jack and Jane Hamilton Heart and Vascular Hospital and co-medical director of cardiology. “It turns out that people actually do better with hands-only, until someone who is trained to provide airway management can get there.”
In fact, nearly 383,000 out-of-hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur annually, and 80 percent of cardiac arrests occur at home, according to the AHA. This means the life you save may be that of someone you love.
“It’s absolutely proven that if CPR is initiated in the field, the chance of preserving a person’s life is much greater,” Dr. Wheelan said. “If that process can be initiated, it will help the chance that person has when getting to the emergency room. If we can help with those interventions, it can make all the difference in the world.”
Dr. Wheelan said the first five to seven minutes are crucial to a person’s survival, and if someone can help increase the blood flow to the brain by performing CPR, it will decrease the risk of death or decline in neurological function.
“It’s a terrible situation to have someone have a cardiac arrest, laying there dying and you don’t know anything to do, when a very simple additional skill set can help tremendously,” Dr. Wheelan said.
Improving education of CPR methods
In addition to SMU students, high school students throughout Texas will also be learning CPR, thanks to legislation passed in House bill 897. The mandate states high school students will be required to complete a CPR training course before they can graduate from high school. Texas will be among 17 states now requiring all high school students to complete CPR training before graduation.
“I think this bill is great because it is universally beneficial to everyone,” Dr. Wheelan said. “There needs to be far more education about health and wellness that we currently have in our education system. Educational initiatives like this just make it that much better.”
At SMU, there is a high emphasis on practical learning outside the classroom. This event in February will give students a chance to learn hands-only CPR and advance their education.
“Learning CPR shows one’s commitment to how much they value life and want to help others.”
“Learning CPR shows one’s commitment to how much they value life and want to help others,” said Randy Canivel, MS, ACSM EP-C, a wellness faculty member in the Department of Applied Physiology and Wellness at SMU. “Having that skill and being proficient at it shows a lot about the student.”
Canivel estimates more than 200 students will take advantage of this opportunity to not only learn CPR, but engage with healthcare professionals from Baylor Scott & White Health.
“We have a great partnership, and this is a big event, because we are teaching a skill that is saving people’s lives,” Canivel said. “We’re also giving students a chance to meet people in the healthcare field and an opportunity to network and see what they do.”
SMU staff encourages students to seek out chances for outside experiences such as this, so they can be better prepared professionals when they graduate.
Removing the barrier of mouth-to-mouth
Experts agree that hands-only CPR is now the best method of CPR for these students to learn. Both Canivel and Dr. Wheelan agree it removes some of the social barriers that came with mouth-to-mouth CPR.
“There’s less reluctance on the part of a bystander to initiate it because there’s no risk to them of getting a contagious disease in the process,” Dr. Wheelan said.
“Hands-only simplifies the skill itself,” Mr. Canivel said.
It is difficult to get adequate air into someone with mouth to mouth, and pausing to do so may waste needed time to increase the blood flow with chest manipulation.
Along with CPR, using an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) can greatly increase the victim’s chance of survival. As education increases, more AED devices are also becoming available in case of emergency.
The 15 minutes it takes to learn CPR properly is a great return on investment for the chance to save the life of a coworker, neighbor, friend or even a stranger.