Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is one of the most important links in the chain of survival for people who experience cardiac arrest. No matter how quickly a condition can be corrected, it is still not fast enough to prevent brain damage if the heart stops. CPR is the only way to continue the circulation of oxygen to the brain and other vital organs during the time it takes to administer permanent solutions.
Most people understand the importance of CPR, but many don’t realize that it’s not just a skill for emergency room staff or ambulance personnel. There are many people outside those fields who need to know how to do CPR.
The first group of people who obviously need CPR certification is those who are required to do so for their jobs. Yet many people don’t understand the importance of maintaining the training for medical personnel who don’t necessarily work around high-risk people.
For example, the nurse in an orthopedic doctor’s office rarely deals with anything but problems with bones and joints, which can be very painful problems but aren’t life-threatening. But what happens if a patient with a long-standing shoulder problem experiences pain in the arm, assumes it’s the old injury, and goes to the orthopedist–then turns out to be having a heart attack? The symptoms of strokes, heart attacks, and other conditions that can cause cardiac arrest are often mistaken for indigestion, pulled muscles, and arthritis, so personnel in facilities that treat those ailments can have a surprisingly high chance of witnessing an arrest.
The condensed version: Anyone who is required to have CPR probably has that requirement for a good reason, just not necessarily an obvious reason.
In addition to the doctors and nurses who treat patients, there are also medical office personnel working in clinics and other medical facilities. Many times they are the only ones near a waiting room full of patients, some of whom are far sicker than anyone realizes and could be on the verge of a cardiac arrest. When those patients collapse, the staff in the front office can be there faster than anyone else, buying valuable time until other help can arrive.
And you don’t have to work in a medical environment to fall into this category. Everyone who works around large crowds of people–not necessarily sick people–has a better chance than average of witnessing a cardiac arrest. Retail workers in shopping malls, teachers, sports stadium ushers, and many others could be the closest help when someone is stricken. Mail carriers, meter readers, and sanitation workers pass hundreds of homes each day and could be the first to happen across an ailing customer. They should know CPR too.
This is kind of an odd area. We think of people in the health profession as those mentioned above, but many people who aren’t directly trying to be involved with medicine sometimes are. A good example is a wellness coordinator in a large office. That person may have several other primary responsibilities in addition to occasional work with fitness, nutrition, stress management, and so forth, but these secondary duties could cause them to be with people who are setting foot on a treadmill for the first time or otherwise experiencing a shock to their system. So even though they aren’t true health care workers, they work around people in a role that could trigger an event. They should be prepared by learning CPR.
CPR is a life-saving skill. Understanding its value to people beyond the most obvious users is critical to getting this skill taught to the people who could save lives.