If you saw someone collapse with a heart attack would you know what to do? Not everyone has taken a CPR class but it's actually easier than you might think to save a life. It's the chief reason most people are scared to learn or perform CPR. But to cheat death you don't necessarily have to give mouth to mouth.
"Just doing the compressions alone, just doing the hands only piece of it is just as effective in saving someone's life." said Chrissy Meyer, media relations director for the American Heart Association in Sioux Falls.
Teaching hands only CPR is what education coordinator Kym Osterberg does best. She says if you see someone collapse, first make sure the area is safe for you to intervene, then get to work.
"It's okay to touch them and shake them a little bit, say hey are you okay? Look to the chest and see if there's any movement and if there's not, point at someone and say you call 911!" said Osterberg.
That is step one of Hands Only CPR: making sure someone calls for help and looks for a nearby AED. Step two is to interlock your hands, keep your arms straight, and start the chest compressions.
"You want to push hard and fast in the center of the chest at a rate of at least 100 per minute at a depth for an adult of at least 2 inches. Then make sure that you fully allow the chest to recoil to allow the heart to fill again so that when you push down when you do a compression the blood is able to leave." said Osterberg. So how do you keep a steady rate of 100 compressions a minute? Just think of the Bee Gee's greatest hit, "Stayin' Alive." If you're not a fan of disco give Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall" a try, or maybe Queen's "Another One Bites the Dust." It may seem a little silly but keeping the beat can be the difference between life and death.
"When you are doing Hands Only CPR what you're doing is you are moving oxygenated blood that's already in the body through the system and the reason why people kind of get this I missed perception that if you're doing CPR you are saving the heart and it's not, you're actually working to save the brain." said Meyer.
Hands Only CPR makes perfect sense for people living in a rural state like ours where it can take up to 30 minutes for EMS to arrive. More often than not, the CPR you perform will be on someone you know.
"It's going to be a family member, a friend, or a coworker, so if you're learning CPR you're not probably learning it to save the life of a stranger. You're learning it to save the life of a loved one." said Meyer.
Again it doesn't take much, just two simple steps.
"So please call 911 and access emergency medical services right away, have someone get an AED, and put your put your hands on and start CPR. Don't be afraid!" said Osterberg.
After about two minutes people tend to get tired so if possible switch out with others to make sure your compressions are both effective and deep enough. It's not just for adults, the Avera Heart Hospital has helped teach Hands Only CPR to middle schoolers across the Sioux Empire. It's their goal to reach every student before they graduate high school. So they can keep people "staying alive" or if they prefer, keep them from "biting the dust." For more information about just call 877-at-avera.