New guidelines could help people get over their fear of helping a person in a life-threatening emergency.
It has to do with cardio pulmonary resuscitation, or CPR. For many people, the mouth-to-mouth breathing involved could be a deterrent to helping a person in need. New guidelines from the American Heart Association say the breathing may not be needed after all.
Darlene Whitlock, RN, education coordinator for Stormont-Vail TraumaCare, says new studies show chest compressions alone may be just as effective as chest compressions done with rescue breathing.
Whitlock says the most important thing to do when you see someone suffering a cardiac emergency is to help them. She says the first thing to do is call 911 to get an ambulance on the way. Then, if there are no signs of life, such as breathing, movement or noise, start CPR. Under the new guidelines for adults, that means you can skip the breathing, and just do compressions.
Whitlock says the compressions are basically using the heels of two hands and pressing on the center of a person's chest about a hundred times a minute. She says you should push hard, push fast and allow the chest to recoil. She says the action of the compressions moves the blood around the body and to the vital organs, potentially keeping any damage from ocurring until the heart can be restarted.
Whitlock is convinced the "hands-only" guidelines will make people more likely to step up in an emergency. She says it lets people know there is something they can do to help that they're not necessarily adverse to doing.
Trained professionals will still use rescue breathing. Whitlock recommends people take a CPR class so they're best prepared to help in an emergency.