CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is a lifesaving procedure to restart a person’s heart when it stops beating or beats so quickly that blood circulation stops, a condition also known as “cardiac arrest.” Administering CPR immediately can double or triple the person’s chances of survival, according to the American Heart Association.
It would be great if emergencies happened only when we’re near a hospital, but life doesn’t work that way. Most cardiac arrests – more than 350,000 according to the American Heart Association – occur outside a hospital. So-called “bystander CPR” improves survival rates, but only if those bystanders administer CPR immediately and correctly. Brain damage occurs just five minutes after the heart stops circulating blood, so speed and skill are critical to preserving neurological function.
A report from the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration states that about 10,000 cardiac arrests happen in the country’s workplaces each year. Fortunately, CPR is often taught in workplaces, raising the chances that when an employee suffers a cardiac arrest in an office, factory, or facility, multiple coworkers will be equipped to administer CPR immediately, either with or without the assistance of an AED.
Obtaining CPR certification is easy. The American Red Cross has locations throughout the country, so most likely there’s a location right in your community, making it convenient to get certified.
If you’d prefer to receive your CPR certification online, here’s a list of web-based certification companies that offer programs.
AidTeam is not affiliated or associated in any way with the following sites, nor the owners nor operators thereof, and does not endorse any of the sites.
What is an AED?
An automated external defibrillator, or AED, is a small device that automatically analyzes the heart rhythm of a suspected cardiac arrest patient and, if appropriate, delivers a measured electoral shock to the person’s heart to help it reestablish a normal rhythm.
Many first aid or CPR education courses include information about AEDs, and you can expect them to cover the different types of AEDs, how each type works, and how to use each type properly.
As the lifesaving capability of an AED has become more widely known, they are increasingly found in a wide range of public places, including stores, restaurants, libraries, government buildings, movie theaters, concert venues, healthcare facilities, stadiums, and workplaces.
People who have never used an AED – or even seen one in person – may not realize how small yet powerful they are. They also may not know how easy they are to use, even for people with no previous training. The device actually talks you through the process! All you have to do is follow the audible instructions. And don’t worry: You can’t unintentionally harm the patient, because the AED analyzes the patient’s heart rhythm (or lack of one) and will administer an electrical shock only if one is needed.
While it’s best to get CPR certified so that you’re more fully prepared to help someone in cardiac arrest, you can still provide lifesaving assistance without that training. The very first step in that situation is to dial 911 and advise the operator of the medical emergency and your intent to use an AED. The next step is to turn on the device and follow the audible instructions.
Learning first aid is critical if you want to be prepared for many of the most common medical emergencies that arise, such as seizures, asthma attacks, strokes, burns, choking; neck, head, and spinal injuries; diabetic emergencies, heart attacks, poisoning, and external bleeding and severe trauma.
First aid courses are commonly combined with courses for adult CPR/AED assistance. Classes for child CPR/AED and pet CPR are available as well but are usually taught separately.
There are a wide range of fully stocked first aid kits you can purchase. They are packaged in a variety of ways, such as in a plastic or metal case secured with a latch or clasp, a soft case secured with a zipper, or a bag with handles and secured with a zipper.
Sizes range from a basic kit that costs several dollars, fits into a pant or jacket pocket, and contains supplies to treat scrapes, cuts, and minor bleeding to a deluxe first responder kit packed in a semi-rigid bag with handles, shoulder strap, and side pockets that costs a few hundred dollars. A wall-mounted cabinet stocked with bleeding control kits is available and is in the same price range.
While there are multiple kits available in stores with an array of first aid supplies, the American Red Cross recommends a first aid kit for a family of four that contains these basic supplies and is a great place to start:
It’s important to have a complete first aid kit, but it’s even more important to customize it.
Don’t be afraid to remove some of the supplies that come with a purchased kit and add others that better meet your needs. Are you diabetic? Epileptic? Hemophilic? Prone to anaphylaxis? Stock your first aid kit with the supplies you would need for someone to treat you (or for you to treat yourself) in the event that you experience symptoms related to your medical condition.
You can also customize your first aid kit for a specific type of activity, such as hiking, camping, or boating. You may choose to augment your first aid kit with an inflatable splint for stabilizing arm or leg fractures, or specialized supplies for treating snake bites.
It’s important to include in your first aid kit any prescription medications you take so that you have them with you in the event of an accident, illness, bad weather, lost luggage, or travel delay.
Keep in mind that although most first aid kits range in size from a book to a briefcase, your customized kit may need to be much bigger in order to accommodate all of your emergency supplies. If you need to use a piece of rolling luggage to organize and carry all of the supplies you’d require in a medical emergency, then that luggage is your first aid kit.
Once you learn your certificate in CPR, you will need to renew it periodically, so be sure to put a reminder in your calendar. Mark the date on which your certificate will expire, and leave yourself a note thirty or sixty days prior to that. This will give you plenty of time to renew your certificate without accidentally leaving it to the last minute due to your busy schedule.
Keep a copy of your certificate for your records, either as a printed copy or a digital copy. Store it with your other important documents, like insurance policies, birth certificates, passports, stock certificates, car and home titles, and passwords. Lear more by Documenting your assets.
People who earn a CPR certificate often find themselves sought out to volunteer at public events and to participate in teaching activities because event organizers and education providers like to publicize that their events and classes are staffed by CPR-certified personnel. For some individuals, their certification inspires them to become an RN, EMT, or physician.