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Mon, Oct. 21

HOW'D THEY DO THAT?: Cardiopulmonary resuscitation saves lives

When someone's heart or breathing stops, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, can save lives. Robin Bullins, a volunteer instructor with the Red Cross, explains the purpose of CPR and how to administer it.

"With CPR, you're literally acting in place of someone's heart," Bullins said. "When the heart stops, you become the pump. The idea behind CPR is not to restart the heart, but to keep blood flowing to the brain and vitals until help arrives. "

Bullins teaches a course on CPR and first aid at the Red Cross office in Prescott. The courses detail specifics on how to gauge emergency situations, knowing what techniques are appropriate, and being able to apply those life-saving emergency techniques that include CPR.

"We advise a three-step process: Check, Call and Care," said Bullins. "First, check the situation, and the victim. Check for signs of life by listening for breath for 10 seconds, checking for a pulse, and so on. If there are no signs of life, it may be time to administer CPR."

Bullins said that if CPR is the appropriate response to the situation, the first step in executing the technique is to give the victim two "rescue breaths" to see if the airway is open.

"Then, you begin the actual CPR process. Lay the person flat on the ground, put your hands, interlocked, on the center of their chest, lock your elbows, and pump," said Bullins. "Give cycles of 30 chest compressions, followed by two breaths, and repeat until the medical professionals arrive."

Bullins added another step, not necessarily part of CPR, but one that should always be taken into account in any emergency situation.

"Call 911. Always call 911 as soon as possible," said Bullins. "CPR, first aid, all layperson emergency response training is meant to buy time and keep someone alive until the professionals can arrive. Even a trained CPR-user should always keep that in mind."

The Red Cross offers CPR and first aid courses covering general emergency preparedness, as well as specifics on how to deal with injured infants and young people.

Kimberly Kunow, a student in Bullins' class, said she felt more confident knowing she has the skills to save a life.

"I know some people don't want that responsibility, but to me, that doesn't make any sense," said Kunow. "I've never had to use CPR myself, but I have been the first at the scene of a car accident, and my training helped me there. I stabilized the victim's head until EMTs arrived.

"It's empowering knowing that I can act if it's needed. I think a lot of people would feel better, knowing they're prepared to step in if an emergency struck their family, or any other human being."

For more information on emergency preparedness courses available at the Prescott Red Cross office, call 445-4981.

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