One part of my job that is really different from the normal routine, and is actually enjoyable, is teaching CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation). This is one of links in the American Heart Association’s (AHA) “chain of survival”. This includes use of the AED (automated external defibrillator).
While I teach: right place, right time–with more and more people hearing about CPR and actually taking classes, it actually may become more likely to save a life in the field. And I certainly seem to be teaching classes almost weekly now. While I have only had two CPR saves in my 18 years as an emergency medical technician, my hope is that with lay people learning CPR, there will be more saves as we keep educating.
With all the advances on the ambulance, with Advanced Cardiac Life Support, better CPR techniques and then the care received in specialized hospitals, patients are walking out of these facilities more frequently and leading normal lives. And it is my great joy to teach classes–especially to lay people.
Most people who come to my classes have had some class in the past–sometimes 20 years ago. But much has changed. Students are often surprised by how things have changed, but are always willing to listen and learn. In the old days a teacher could pretty much wing a class and teach based on their own knowledge. But now, AHA is fairly strict and everything is video based.
This is understandable, with all the liability now, and wanting to create a uniform program taught the same way for everyone. Of course every teacher brings their own personality to the class, and this is where I hope I excel.
Classes can vary in their own personalities also, coming from church groups, teachers, bus drivers, factory workers to stay at home moms. The groups may vary in ages from teens to elderly people. This can make teaching a bunch sometimes challenging. Some groups are happy to be there and do so willingly and some are being made by work. So it’s my job to make it fun for everyone.
The AHA video is really pretty decent given the content, but it is, after all, a CPR video! I try to spruce it up by stopping frequently with my own interjections, stories and allowing students to participate in discussions. My classes are very interactive, so the students won’t fall asleep. There is huge redundancy also which can become monotonous and boring, just like the compression metronome, so getting them up and moving every so often is critical.
When I’m testing them, I make each scenario personal to them, trying to make them laugh. I also make each class a teaching moment for other things like cardiac disease, obesity, the 911 system, the EMS protocol system for cardiac arrest, DNR’s (Do Not Resuscitate) and such. So it makes for very interesting discussions. While they are there to learn about CPR, I hope they come away with a lot more.
We also talk about the realistic part of what may happen in a cardiac arrest. The messy part that isn’t mentioned on the video, so they can really be prepared for real life. And we talk a lot about children and infants, because that’s the CPR no-one ever wants to do. I try to instill in them a sense of confidence and calmness. All this while trying to have some fun. Part of that fun is that they learn that the compressions are done to the beat of the old song from the movie “Saturday Night Fever”–Stayin’ Alive. They love that part and I actually sing it! Some of them do too.
Finally we also learn about how to help adults, children and infants who are choking. Now this is truly a life saving tool! I have saved my own daughter’s life by doing abdominal thrusts. Everyone should know how to do this properly! You never know when you may be called upon to do it: at a restaurant, a neighbor’s house, a movie theater, your family member! It’s simple and works!
So when my students complete this class, I’m hoping they leave with a sense of pride and accomplishment. Many hope they will never have to perform CPR on anyone, but know if they had to, they could. And with this new skill, they can be out in the world knowing they may actually save someone’s life.
Consider taking a class if you haven’t already–or renewing that old card of yours! Remember: it’s all different now. You never know who’s life you might save! Altogether now: Stayin’ Alive, Stayin’ Alive…Ah Ah Ah Ah….Stayin’ Alive!