Thu, Oct 10, 2019 - Page 8 News List

Knowing and saving lives with CPR

By Li Cheng-ta 李政達

The Chinese-language United Daily News on Sept. 29 reported that a declining number of people are learning cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). As a result, only 22 percent of people who suffer out-of-hospital heart attacks in Taiwan survive. This falls far short of the 63 percent survival rate in Seattle, Washington.

Apart from a lack of incentives to learn CPR, a major reason for the low survival rate might be the few opportunities that CPR learners have to review and freshen up their skills. When faced with an emergency, those who know CPR tend toward doing too little rather than too much. Being out of practice, they would prefer to avoid getting into trouble for botching a rescue.

As a physical education teacher at a university, I rarely miss the first-aid workshops that are held every semester. I know how unpredictable injuries can be during the course of a physical education lesson.

Some students might suffer from concealed risk factors, even though they have never fallen ill. Others might show off in class, thinking that nothing could happen to them. Maybe students just have a light cold, the onset of their monthly period, a hangover from being out drinking at a karaoke parlor or exhaustion from staying up all night writing a report. Various negative factors can accumulate to the point where they cause an accident.

I take advantage of the workshops to take in any new information and to revive my skills by practicing chest compressions on the “Resuscitation Annie” CPR mannequin as an expert evaluates my technique.

I have gained countless first-aid certificates over the years. Although I have never had to apply these skills in a real emergency, they equip me to handle one if it happens.

Whenever a workshop is scheduled, I encourage students via homeroom announcements, class meetings and social media apps to attend.

I know that many students aim to become flight attendants or ground crew after they graduate. Whether or not a CPR certificate helps them land a job, it would mean there would be one additional person on board who is familiar with the “call, call, C-A-B-D” sequence: call, call, chest compressions, airway, breathing and defibrillation.

This means that the person performing CPR should call out to the sick person to see if they are conscious, call out to others to phone emergency services, apply chest compressions, open the person’s airway, check whether they are breathing and apply mouth-to-mouth respiration if necessary, and apply an automated external defibrillator if available. These actions will surely raise the patient’s chances of being successfully resuscitated.

The newspaper was right to report that attendance at CPR classes has been declining over the past few years. If obtaining a CPR certificate could be listed as a requirement for getting a job in public transport, or something that would boost one’s employability, it would probably encourage more people to attend. That would surely result in many more heart-attack victims being brought back from the edge of death.

Li Cheng-ta teaches physical education at the Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology.

Translated by Julian Clegg

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