Sea Sick: Commit these CPR steps to memory; seconds count

Nov 27, 2019 by Keith Murray

Sea Sick: by Keith Murray

Many of you reading this may be walking around the Fort Lauderdale boat show. Regardless of where you are, do you know what to do if someone suddenly collapses? 

Statistically, the odds of surviving sudden cardiac arrest are low – less than 8%. The odds of surviving cardiac arrest drop about 10% per minute until an AED can be used to defibrillate, or shock, the victim back to life. The key to surviving cardiac arrest is fast CPR, fast defibrillation and fast transport to a hospital. 

There are two ways to perform CPR:  the traditional CPR with 30 compressions and 2 breathes; and the “new CPR,” which is hands-only CPR, no mouth to mouth. In this column, we will be discussing the hands-only CPR, which is much easier and safer for the rescuer.

Remember, if you see someone collapse, call for help – you need emergency medical personnel quickly. Send for the AED and apply it as soon as possible. If the person is not breathing, start pushing hard, fast and deep in the center of the chest. The compressions buy you time by keeping the blood, which carries oxygen, flowing to the brain.

For an adult patient, push down in the center of the patient’s chest to a depth of at least 2 inches (5 cm) for an average adult — and do not stop. Push hard and fast at the rate of 120 compressions per minute, or about twice per second. If you remember the disco song “Staying Alive” by the Bee Gees, that song is about the same beats per minute, so push to that beat. If you want a more recent song, try “Baby Shark,” which is also the same beats per minute.

Breaking the patient’s ribs is somewhat common during CPR; if you hear or feel ribs breaking, don’t stop. You are trying to a life and must continue pushing until help arrives or the patient can breathe unassisted. 

Remember, the faster you apply the AED, the better. And don’t worry, the AED will only shock someone who is in cardiac arrest.; it will not shock someone who doesn’t need it.

Please read the nine steps below often, and quiz your crewmates on them. When they are needed, every second counts and there won’t be time for a review.

9 Simple Steps to Perform Hands-Only CPR

  1. Make certain the scene is safe. Look for traffic, electricity and other hazards.
  2. If the scene is safe, kneel beside the person who needs help and try to wake them. Ask, “Are you OK?” Shake them. If they do not wake up, call 911 (or radio for help) and send for an AED.
  3. Make certain your knees are close to the patient’s body, at about the middle of their chest.
  4. Look at the patient’s chest. Are they breathing? If they are not breathing or breathing abnormally, they need your help.
  5. Place the heel of one hand on the center of the chest between the nipples.
  6. Place the heel of the other hand on top of the first hand, then lace your fingers together.
  7. Position your body so that your shoulders are directly over your hands, and keep your arms straight. Do not bend your arms – use your core.
  8. Push hard, push fast and push deep into the chest. Use your body weight to help achieve compressions that are more than 2 inches deep and delivered at a rate of 120 compressions per minute. (Be sure to let the chest rise completely between compressions and avoid bouncing.)
  9. Continue administering CPR until you see obvious signs of life, such as the person breathing on their own; until another trained responder or EMS professional can take over; until you’re too exhausted to continue; until an AED becomes available; or until the scene becomes unsafe.

EMT Keith Murray provides onboard CPR, AED and first-aid training as well as AED sales and service. His company can be found at Comments are welcome below.