During the weekend's opening of EURO 2020, we saw Denmark's midfielder Christian Eriksen collapse on the football pitch 40 minutes into the game.
Television camera's continued to focus on Eriksen throughout the ordeal, which caused huge controversy however, it has brought to the forefront of people's mind's do we know enough about performing CPR, especially during a global pandemic and defibrillators. Both of which save peoples lives.
Eriksen's teammate Simon Kjaer cleared his airways and started performing CPR before medical staff rushed to his side and used a defibrillator. The swift actions of his teammate and the medical staff saved Eriksen's life, as it was later confirmed after tests, that he suffered a cardiac arrest and was 'clinically dead' on the pitch.
Eriksen is now stable in hospital undergoing further tests however, the outcome could have been very different. If this happened to someone around you, would you know how to save their life?
What is CPR?
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation and is a medical technique which is given to someone who goes into cardiac arrest.
A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart encounters an electrical issue and stops pumping blood around the body and to the brain, causing the person to fall out of consciousness and stop breathing.
Medics define this as 'clinical death', which is the onset of biological death, although CPR can help re-start the person's heart functions and save their life.
By administering chest compressions and rescue breaths, the CPR performer helps to pump blood and oxygen around the person's body, taking over the role of their heart and lungs.
Why is CPR and time so important?
The longer the delay in giving CPR, the higher the chance that the heart muscle will never recover.
For every minute that passes, the chances of an individual surviving go down by 7%- 10%, so it is crucial to keep the heart beating during these moments and get the heart started as quickly as possible.
Quick action is not only so that the cardiac outcome will be good, but also that the other organs, such as the brain, remain well perfused so that the individual after survival remains healthy.
CPR and COVID
COVID has changed everything, and you can still give CPR during a global pandemic but be aware of the risk to yourself and others. When approaching a casualty there is always a risk of cross contamination - especially when you may have to get close to the casualty to assess what is wrong or to check their breathing. It is always important to be aware of the risks of how this cross contamination has occurred.
By following government guidance you can keep yourself safe by using hand sanitiser before and after giving CPR and also ensure you do not sneeze or cough over them.
If you find someone collapsed do the primary survey (DR ABC)
- DANGER - is the area safe?
- RESPONSE - is the person responsive? Kneel by the persons side, introduce yourself, gently shake their shoulders asking them to open their eyes.
- AIRWAYS - are they open and clear? Open the airway by placing one hand on the forehead to tilt the head back and use two fingers from the other hand to lift the chin.
- BREATHING - are they breathing? DO NOT PUT YOUR FACE CLOSE TO THEIRS. If they aren't, call 999 immediately putting the phone on speaker, begin CPR and ask someone to find a defibrillator.
- CIRCULATION - are they severely bleeding? Only go to this point if the person is breathing
Before you start CPR, use a towel or piece of clothing, and lay it over the mouth and nose of the casualty.
a) Kneel by the casualty and put the heel of your hand on the middle of their chest. Put your other hand on top of the first. Interlock your fingers making sure they don't touch the ribs.
b) Keep your arms straight and lean over the casualty. Press down hard, to a depth of about 5-6cm before releasing the pressure, allowing the chest to come back up.
c) The beat of the song "Staying Alive" can help you keep the right speed
Do not give rescue breaths.
Continue to perform CPR until:
- emergency help arrives and takes over
- the person starts showing signs of life and starts to breathe normally
- you are too exhausted to continue (if there is a helper, you can change over every one-to-two minutes, with minimal interruptions to chest compressions)
- a defibrillator is ready to be used.
If the helper returns with a defibrillator, ask them to switch it on and follow the voice prompts while you continue with CPR.
Wherever possible, the helper should keep a distance of 2m.
If the casualty shows signs of becoming responsive such as coughing, opening eyes, speaking, and starts to breathe normally, put them in the recovery position. Monitor their level of response and prepare to give CPR again if necessary.
- If you have used a defibrillator, leave it attached.
A defibrillator is a device that gives a high energy electric shock to the heart of someone who is in cardiac arrest. This high energy shock is called defibrillation, and it's an essential part in trying to save the life of someone who's in cardiac arrest.
You don't need to be trained to use a defibrillator - anyone can use it. There are clear instructions on how to attach the defibrillator pads. It then assesses the heart rhythm and will only instruct you to deliver a shock if it's needed. You cannot deliver a shock accidentally, the defibrillator will only allow you to shock if it is needed.
In a recent survey, three quarters of people said they wouldn't feel confident enough to act if they saw someone having a cardiac arrest. With more CPR training and greater awareness, we can change that.
Defibrillators are normally located in workplaces and public spaces like airports, shopping centres, community centres, and train stations. These defibrillators are known as public access defibrillators (PADs) as anyone can use them.
If you need a defibrillator in an emergency, the 999 call handler will often know where one is and tell you, so you can ask someone to get it. By performing CPR and using a defibrillator, you'll give someone the best possible chance of survival, but there isn't always a defibrillator close enough to help save the life of someone having a cardiac arrest.
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