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National CPR/AED Week

Emergency Defibrillator mounted on the wall.With summer making its debut, June seems to be the time for vacations, family gatherings, and all around good time in the long, warm, and sunny days. With the beautiful days spent with friends and family fast approaching, this Nurses' Health Corner will be looking into how to keep you and your loved ones safe so you can enjoy those good summer days and fun summer nights!

June 1-7 is National CPR/AED (automated external defibrillator) Week. According to the American Red Cross, 70% of Americans will report feeling helpless should a cardiac emergency arise because they do not know how to administer Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR).This is particularly alarming because 70% of cardiac emergencies occur at home; so if you are witness to cardiac arrest, it is likely that the victim will be someone you love!

Cardiac arrest is not the same as a heart attack, but rather is when electrical impulses to the heart become chaotic and causes the heart to stop beating and pumping blood to the rest of the body. Cardiac arrest is commonly referred to as ventricular fibrillation, and it is described as the heart quivering. This quivering is a deadly medical emergency, and over an estimated 350,000 cardiac arrests occur outside of the hospital setting annually. The American Heart Association recommends that for teens and adults who suddenly collapse, the best thing to do is immediately call 911 and then proceed to push hard and fast in the center of the chest to beat of the old disco song, "Stayin' Alive". This method, known as hands-only CPR could more than double someone's chance of survival post cardiac arrest.

There are times, however, when hand-only CPR is not appropriate. If the individual is an infant up to age one, a child up to puberty, found unconscious and not breathing normally, or is a victim of drowning, drug overdose, or prolonged cardiac arrest, CPR with a ratio of 30 compressions and 2 breaths is recommended. The American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and the National Safety Council all offer online CPR certification courses, and in many communities your local hospital or YMCA will too.

Ultimately, it is important to keep in mind that, when responding to an emergency, even if you do not have proper training, some CPR is better than no CPR. For a brief informational video on how to perform hands-only CPR or for more information on hands-on CPR and how it compares to conventional CPR check out:

Information provided by Abigail Willett, student intern with Community Outreach at Augusta Health. To contact Dana Breeding, RN, relating to the information in this article or with questions/comments/concerns, please call (540) 332-4988 or (540) 932-4988.