Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, usually called CPR, is a technique the helps to take over the task of circulating oxygen and blood to the body when a cardiac or pulmonary arrest occurs. This life-saving technique has a long history, and refinements in CPR’s implementation have helped to save the lives of millions of people around the world and STS of Berkeley hopes to train many more people so millions of more lives can be saved.

 

Ancient Writings

Efforts to help victims of drowning and other means of sudden death began early in the history of mankind.  Writings that go back to the ancient Mayan civilization make reference to methods of resuscitation. The Incans also mention resuscitation of people who suffered sudden collapse. Other writings of the past mention the use of a metal cannula inserted into the throat to induce respiration.

 

Mouth-to-mouth

Breathing into the mouth was an early development, mainly used to resuscitate babies and children in distress. Later, a type of bellows was development that pumped air into the patient. Warming the patient, bloodletting and fumigating with tobacco were also used.

 

Chest compressions

In the late 1800s, Dr. H.R. Silvester proposed a method of artificial respiration to help revive patients. This was an early form of CPR that was known as the “Silvester Method.” It was taught to medical personnel for many years. In this technique, the patient was laid on his back with arms extended above his head to help open airways.  In the 1900s, the patient’s position was changed to a face down pose with the head turned to the side and the palms downward. The back was then compressed and the patient’s elbows raised to force air into the lungs. This position was known as the “Holger Nielson Technique” and was used for many years. Old TV shows often show this older method of CPR.

 

CPR Advances

By the mid-20th century, medical researchers found that cardiac arrest patients were more likely to survive if both chest compressions and artificial respiration were used.  A formal method of teaching the technique was developed, and the effort to widely disperse this information began. This technique was taught extensively to the public for many years through the medical community, first aid courses and public health organizations.

 

Hands-Only CPR

As the decades passed, a body of data regarding outcomes of CPR use became available. Researchers noticed that in some circumstance, the use of the compressions alone provided sufficient blood flow to keep the person alive. Recently, the American Heart Association and STS of Berkeley began to advise students of CPR to use chest compressions alone, unless a specific breathing difficulty was a factor.  In cases of choking, drowning or other respiratory problems, mouth-to-mouth technique is still recommended.

 

The Future of CPR

Automatic devices that can do the compressions easily without manual assistance are already available. AEDs, automatic external defibrillators, which send an electrical charge to the heart to restart beating, can be found in airports, hotels and other establishments. These machines have been a great help in saving lives in everyday circumstances.  It is likely that new technologies will provide new developments to aid in rescuing people who are the victims of cardiac or pulmonary arrest. Safety Training Seminars also offers classes in AED training.

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