Basic life support refers to the assistance professional first responders give to victims with an obstructed airway, respiratory distress and those with cardiac arrest. These skills require the knowledge of CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation), AED (automated defibrillator) skills and knowledge of relieving airway obstruction.
The ABC of Basic Life Support
The ABC are abbreviations for Airway, Breathing and Compressions. It refers to the sequence of events in BLS. The aim of ABC procedure is to ensure that the victim should receive proper CPR within the shortest time possible. Research findings by the American Heart Association show that beginning the chest compressions earlier improves the victim’s chances of survival. Responders should not take more than 10seconds checking for a pulse. Wherever in doubt, bystanders should begin CPR. There is little harm likely to occur if the victim is not in need of CPR. Earlier CPR procedures advised for listening and feeling for breathing; which might take more time for non medical professionals. If the victim is unresponsive, gasping for air or without a pulse, it’s best to begin CPR within the he shortest time possible.
Rescuers should use mouth to mouth ventilation, bag mask ventilation or mouth to mask ventilation until an advanced airway is in place. For adults, each 30 chest compressions should be followed by two rescue breaths (30:2), while for infants 15 chest compressions alternate with two rescue breaths (15:2).
Mouth to mouth rescue breathing
A pocket or bag mask should always be given priority when doing mouth to mouth ventilation as it lowers the risks of transmitting infections. Mouth to mouth ventilation provides 17% oxygen which is normally expelled during normal breathing. This oxygen level is sufficient to keep the victim alive and maintain normal body functions.
When providing ventilation, avoid doing it too rapidly or forcing air too much into the airway as it might result in more complications if the air moves to the victims stomach.
In most cases, respiratory arrest precedes cardiac arrest. If you are able to identify the signs of respiratory arrest, you are more likely to prevent the occurrence of cardiac arrest. Wherever the victim has a pulse but no signs of breathing, start rescue breathing immediately.
How to Perform Rescue Breathing?
Tilt the victim’s head slightly backwards and open airway. For adults, pinch the nose and breath into the mouth at a rate of 10 to 12 breaths per minute. For infants and smaller children, cover both the mouth and nose with your mouth and breath in at that rate of 12 to 20 breaths per minute. Each breath should last for at least one second. Ensure the chest rises and falls with each breath. If the victim doesn’t regain consciousness begin CPR immediately.
The basic life support course covers the following:
- Starting the chain of survival as soon as possible.
- Performing high quality chest compressions for victims of different ages.
- The location and use of AED.
- When and how to perform rescue breathing.
- How to work in rescue teams.
- First aid for choking victims.
The Chance of Survival:
Early initiation of basic life support improves the chances of survival of cardiac arrest victims. It is important to recognize the symptoms of cardiac arrest. The victim might collapse and fall unconscious. However prior to this, they may experience light-headedness, chest pain or discomfort, shortness of breath and difficult breathing.
Quick administration of CPR provides better chances of survival. The CPR procedure differs depending on age. The depth of chest compressions for infants, children and adults differs. High quality CPR is critical for the survival of the victim.
High quality CPR takes into account the following:
- 100 chest compressions per minute.
- Minimizing interruptions between the compressions unless it is to use the AED or change the responder.
- The depth of chest compressions recommended for adults is 2inches while that of infants is 1.5inches.
- Allowing for a complete chest recoil between compressions.
- Interchanging of rescuer when fatigued.
- Taking precautions to avoid over-ventilation.
The Automated Defibrillator (AED)
The automated defibrillator (AED) is a critical device in reviving the heart for cardiac arrest victims. It is easy to use and accessible in most public places and facilities in the United States.
The AED should be used as soon as it is available. Early use of AED improves the outcome. The machine detects and advises whether or not shock is necessary for that particular case. The most common cause of cardiac arrest is ventricular defibrillation. The condition is reversible by delivering electric shock to the victims heart through the chest wall.
With a team of rescuers, as one person performs the chest compressions, the other one should prepare the defibrillator. The use of the AED requires training. What makes the device even simpler to use is that it is automated.
Steps for Using the AED Device
- Retrieve the AED and turn it on.
- Expose the victims chest and if wet wipe it dry. Take off any medication patches on the chest.
- Get the AED pads, peel off backing and retrieve the defibrillator or pacemaker.
- Apply the pads with one on the right chest just above the breast, and the left chest just below the armpit.
- See to it that the wires are attached to the AED box.
- Stop CPR, move away from the victim and ensure everyone stays clear and no one is in contact with the victim.
- Let the AED analyze the rhythm of the victim.
- If it indicates you check electrodes make sure they in have good contact with the victims chest. If the victim has hairy chest remove them and reattach.
- If the machine indicates shock ensure the electrodes are in good contact and follow the prompts.
- Perform CPR for two minutes and deliver another shock. Repeat the cycle until the victim regains consciousness.
Does and don’t of using the AED:
- Always use pediatric pads for children between one-year and eight years.
- You should only use adult pads if pediatric pads are not available.
- For children under one year, use manual defibrillators if available. You can, however, use the AED if the defibrillators are not available.
- Check for a switch to turn adjust the shock to that of pediatrics.
- If the device cannot deliver pediatric shock use the adult pads.
- Always keep in mind that the shock is the only possible cure for the victim.
Precautions when using the AED
- The pads shouldn’t touch or get in contact with each other.
- AED shouldn’t be used around water.
- Bring the victim to a dry surface and ensure the chest is dry.
- Don’t use alcohol to wipe the victim as it is flammable.
- Avoid touching the victim while the AED is attached.
- Motion affects the analysis of the AED. It therefore shouldn’t be used in moving vehicles.
- Do not use the AED while the victim is lying on a conductor such as a metal surface.
- Avoid using the AED on a victim with nitroglycerine patch.
- While using the AED, avoid using a cellphone within 6 feet distance as it might affect the accuracy of the analysis.
Choking results from obstructed airway and can potentially lead to cardiac arrest. The treatment for obstruction varies depending on the degree of obstruction. It can be severe or mild obstruction.
First aid for obstruction is the same for children older than a year and adults. For mild obstruction, the victim may have symptoms of coughing, not breathing or wheezing. For this case, the rescuer should encourage the victim to cough and calm them down. If the obstruction persists, call for emergency medical services.
For severe obstruction, the victim has the following symptoms: clutching the neck, little or no breathing, little or not coughing and unable to make talk or make a sound. In other cases, he or she might make a high pitched sound. Other signs include bluish color on the lips and finger tips (cyanotic). For cases of severe obstruction, apply abdominal thrusts otherwise known as Heimlich maneuver (for both children one year and older and adults).
How to Perform Heimlich Maneuver?
- Standings behind the victim, wrap arms around them just below their rib cage.
- Without pressing on the lower sternum, place the side of your fist in the middle of the victims belly just above the navel.
- Hold the fist with your other hand and push into the abdomen and upwards towards the chest.
- Continue performing the thrusts until the victim is relieved or regains consciousness. If you can see to the object causing the obstruction, use your fingers to remove it.
- Incase you are unable to remove the object, or the victim becomes unresponsive begin CPR and continue until specialized help arrives.
- For infants less than a year old do not attempt blind finger swift.
- Call for specialized help (911).
- Use back blows or chest thrusts to clear the obstruction.
- If the infant falls unconscious start the basic life support procedure.
Basic Life Support Training
Basic Life Support training is covered under CPR and AED training programs. These programs are available online at an affordable cost. There are various advantages of taking online CPR certification over in-person training. If you choose online CPR course, you get to acquire the same level of skills at a fair price at your own convenience. Online CPR training is readily available at any given time and can be taken from anywhere. There are no limitations for enrolling for CPR classes, which makes the course open for everyone interested. Whenever life-threatening emergencies occur, waiting for the EMS to arrive might cost you the life of a loved one especially with case of cardiac arrest.
|Enroll Now for Online Basic Life Support (BLS) Certification Classes at just $44.95.|