Rap artist Buggin Malone had just taken the stage at a concert in Wapato last month when he heard a crash in the darkness between performances. A man in the audience had fallen and hit his head.
Malone didn’t hesitate. He dropped the microphone, left the stage at Las Palmas nightclub and saw the man lying semiconscious on the floor. Malone had shaken his hand just minutes before.
“Everybody’s surrounding this guy, he’s gurgling … I said we need to turn him sideways, he’s choking on his tongue,” Malone said. “At this moment he stops breathing. His lips were turning blue.”
Someone in the audience at Tribal Funktion 4 checked for a pulse; there was none. The ambulance hadn’t arrived. An onlooker said he could do CPR but hesitated, so Malone got to work.
“My grandson used to have seizures and one time he had seizures on me, I did CPR. … And I was a manager of a gas station; we had to have (CPR) certification to work there,” said Malone, a member of the Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin who drove with friends to perform at the ?June 8 concert.
Malone used what he learned, giving the man chest compression, breathing into his mouth, more chest compression, more breathing. Finally the man gasped for air, looked at Malone, started reaching for him as relatives held his hands. Malone backed up to give him space.
“I fell to the ground and started crying. My show was basically canceled, but I didn’t care,” he said. “The connection we all had after I got off the stage and did what I did was amazing. It brought people together.”
Malone, whose given name is Wayne Malone Jr., knew what everyone should know – how to save someone’s life with CPR.
While that knowledge is valuable year-round because situations like the one Malone faced can happen any time, along with all kinds of accidents and heart attacks, it’s especially important these days. Summertime means more people are outside, and with that comes the potential for a greater need of CPR skills as some overdo it on land or in water.
“Summer is the time when everything gets ramped up. More people are using water recreation,” said Brian Hoffmeister, an aquatic executive with the American Red Cross in Bend, Ore. He works with schools, waterfronts, aquatic centers and others to ensure that their CPR and first aid training needs are met.
“From Memorial (Day) to Labor Day, we start to see drownings. That’s when CPR can be really vital,” Hoffmeister said.
Here are five things to know about CPR today
1. CPR certification courses are offered year-round at various locations and online. Some businesses also offer them for their employees to meet OSHA workplace training requirements.
Hoffmeister said the Red Cross has a few ways it provides classes. The nonprofit schedules and staffs classes in large metropolitan areas. Yakima has Red Cross training providers including the Yakima Athletic Club and Yakima Parks and Recreation; find out where and when classes are available at www.redcross.org/take-a-class.
Offerings range from a complete first aid course to adult CPR or pediatric CPR.
“If it’s just CPR, you’re probably looking in the four-hour range” for course length, he said. “It’s not just walking in the door and learning how to compress. It’s also teaching students how to not get into danger.”
Cat and dog owners also can learn first aid for their pets online through the Red Cross. A 35-minute online course includes a variety of topics from understanding and checking vital signs, preventative care for cats and dogs and handling critical situations such as breathing and cardiac emergencies, wounds, bleeding and seizures.
Get more info at https://www.redcross.org/take-a-class/first-aid/cat-dog-first-aid.
2. You can learn hands-only CPR even faster – in a few minutes.
Richard Lundgren, chest pain coordinator for Astria Regional Medical Center, noted that the American Heart Association recommends hands-only CPR for those without official CPR certification. Of course, the first step should always be to call 911.
But why hands-only CPR?
“A lot of people are reluctant to do mouth-to-mouth,” Lundgren said. “In addition to that, breathing for a person who’s in cardiac arrest is the least critical thing to do. The most critical thing to is get blood circulating.”
In pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest at the rate of about 100 beats per minute (to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive”), the person performing CPR works to circulate blood throughout the body.
“Every time hands are taken off the chest, that pressure rapidly falls. We’re trying to minimize the amount of time that people do not receive compressions,“ he said.
CPR used to prioritize airway, breathing, circulation (ABC) – in that order. Now it’s CAB, or circulation, airway, breathing. That change has come in the past several years, said Lundgren, a registered nurse for 18 years.
Visit heart.org/handsonlycpr (heart.org/rcp en espaqol) and watch a short training video to learn how to perform hands-only CPR.
3. The Good Samaritan Law protects those who want to help another by performing CPR.
Some who take CPR certification classes wonder if they can be held liable if the person they’re helping is injured or dies. But in hesitating, they may endanger someone’s life even more.
“If you find someone that’s down, it’s better to act than not act. A lay person cannot be held accountable … if you try to help someone, you can’t be held liable for anything that happens to them. You’re basically going to someone who’s dead” and trying to save his or her life, Lundgren said.
The Good Samaritan law will protect people as long as they act responsibly, he said.
Some wonder if they could kill someone by performing CPR incorrectly. While people should know how to perform CPR, ”It’s better to perform it imperfectly than not at all,“ he added.
What it comes down to is the person who is unconscious “is on the fast track to being dead,” Hoffmeister said. “If we don’t do something, their condition is only going to get worse.”
CPR is an aggressive effort, and ribs may get broken or cartilage may get torn, he admitted. But without CPR, ”they will die,“ he added.
4. CPR doesn’t always work, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try – and know that you won’t catch something by doing so.
The success rate is 5 to 10 percent for lay people who are administering CPR to adults, depending on how soon it’s performed after the victim collapses, Lundgren said. The survival rate climbs to about 20 percent for trained medical professionals who perform CPR.
Some people wonder if they can contract AIDS or communicable diseases by performing mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. Communicable diseases can be spread only with direct contact with certain bodily fluids, so the risk of becoming infected is minimal, especially with hands-only CPR, but it’s recommended that people keep a protective plastic barrier just in case.
“We’re not recommending (mouth-to-mouth) for the lay person; again, hands-only for someone who’s not CPR certified,” Lundgren said.
5. CPR instructors see a few common mistakes among students, one in particular.
Probably the biggest thing instructors see when teaching CPR is that inexperienced people don’t push hard enough, Hoffmeister said, because they’re worried about hurting the person they’re trying to help.
Linda M. Dale, who is program director for the Physician Assistant Educational Program at Heritage University in Toppenish, said depending on the age of the patient, broken ribs are possible. But the most important goal is to keep the person’s blood pumping.
“Sometimes when people go into the ER they often have their ribs broken during CPR because you have to,” Dale said. ”When you think about the little old lady, the little old man who’s having the coronary, their bones are more brittle.
“You have to get a certain depth (because) you’re squeezing that heart. You have to do it deep enough to get that. If you’re doing it on someone who’s frail, elderly, you’re going to break some ribs. A young patient, you’ll be able to do CPR on them and most likely not crack a rib because of the supple bones.”
That’s why class is important. While in-person CPR certification classes can cost around $100, online classes can be as little as $25.
“In taking the class … you’ll learn how to do the compressions correctly, the point you can press the chest and not only minimize the injuries we may cause, but also improve the person’s chance of survival,” Hoffmeister said.
That survivor could be your spouse, your child or your infant.
“You might put it on the back burner, getting certified, but … you never know when that person’s going to need it,” he said.
“We want people to be trained so when those random weird things happen, someone knows what to do.”