What’s Wrong Here?

 In 2022, Tip of the Week

Many of us, even those who are not football fans, are following the news about Damar Hamlin, the 24-year-old Buffalo Bills football player who suffered a cardiac arrest during the first quarter of the televised Monday Night Football game last week. Thankfully, Damar continues to make good progress in his recovery.

Much of the reporting on the incident is good, and we are glad that there was a quick response with Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and the use of an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). That is what probably saved Damar’s life.

But, unfortunately, not all the coverage has been completely accurate. Take a look at this article from a North Carolina television station. While it was well intentioned, SCM takes issue with this statement: “Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is also no longer advised, as that time could be better spent doing effective chest compressions.”

It is true that when an adult suffers a witnessed cardiac arrest, meaning you saw the person collapse, as was the case for Damar, that rescue breathing is less important. It is likely that Damar took in some air as he fell. At the time of his collapse, compressions were the more important life-saving technique as his body still had some oxygen available.

But that does not mean that mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is no longer advised in all cases, which could be implied in the above statement. The American Heart Association estimates that there are annually about 356,000 cardiac arrests occurring outside of hospitals. (See the statistics here) Many of these arrests happen with no one around. It is very difficult to know how much oxygen is present in a body when the arrest is unwitnessed. Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation is vital and life-giving in those cases.

Hands only CPR is usually taught to lay persons who have not been fully trained in cardiopulmonaryresuscitation which underscores the importance of taking a full CPR training course, such as what SCM usually provides for our clients, which includes effective chest compressions. We train people to press hard, compressing the chest 2 – 2.4 inches in the center of the chest, and fast, at the rate of 100 – 120 beats per minute. But if no one knows how long it has been since the patient collapsed, we stress that people should give two breaths after every 30 compressions. Click the link to read the most current CPR guidelines from the American Heart Association.

We at SCM are sending good thoughts and prayers that Damar Hamlin makes a speedy and full recovery. If you want to do something for him, consider taking a CPR class.

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