I’ve been a CFR for a couple of years now (OK, underestimate), but I’ve rarely had to do CPR.

CPR, for the uninitiated, is not similar to a CFR (Community First Responder), though we sometimes do it. It’s Cardio-Pumonary Resuscitation – chest compressions and breathing for the patient. It’s used only when the patient has no pulse.

I’ve now done it for real twice in the last month. Before this, I doubt if I’ve needed to do it more than once a year. Unfortunately it didn’t work either time.

The first one was for a bloke of about 75. I arrived to find the Community Paramedic (CP) already performing CPR. She shouted to me to take over so I did, whilst she gave various drugs. She’d already checked to see if she could use a defibrillator, but no joy. I really gave it my best and continued when the ambulance crew arrived.

Unfortunately, this time my best, and the professionals’ too, wasn’t good enough. We had to accept that the poor chap was dead.

Walking away from the scene, the CP said to me “Your chest compressions are damn good. You did them as if you meant it.”

She may have simply been making nice comments, but she’s not like that. Her “nice comments” would have been more general, so I believed her. I felt I’d done the CPR as well as most professionals could – I’ve been practising for over 40 years, after all!

The other day, I had to do it again. This time I was first on scene to find an old lady trying to do CPR on her equally aged husband – and not making a particularly good job of it. Like most caring people, she was being too gentle.

I felt for a pulse in his neck and couldn’t find one. His neck felt a little stiff too.

Giving a couple of rounds of CPR, I then tried the defibrillator. No joy – no shockable pulse. Back to the CPR.

I was on my own for a few minutes and then the CP (different one) turned up about 45 seconds before the ambulance crew. They attached the leads to do an ECG and got a flat line. Well, first of all they got my compressions (as I don’t stop until I’m told to), and then the flat line. Checking the time since the patient first stopped breathing, the CP asked me to stop – we’d done all we could.

OK, two cases and no result in either. Will it stop me from using CPR again? Of course not. Our problem is that, by the time we get on scene, some time has passed since the original stopping of the heart. The longer it’s been stopped, without good CPR, the harder it is to get it going again.

I feel that EVERY citizen should be trained in CPR, at least every three years. Not being trained would result in you losing every benefit you get from the State. OK, there would be exemptions for those who physically couldn’t do it or who had a genuine religious or ethical reason for not learning the technique. Having said that, all the major religious groups support CPR.

My heart goes out to the people in the two cases mentioned who lost a loved one;I just wish that CPR hadn’t been necessary, or that it had resulted in their loved ones survivals.

What do YOU think?


2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by mike on December 10, 2010 at 23:01

    I commend what you do. Not having the opportunity to use CPR frequently, you have just experienced what many of us confront on a regular basis, the evil of time. Time is not on our side in these events. One of the factors that will increase survivability is getting CPR and AED to the pt side quicker. Community CPR training and dispatch protocol that assist callers in performing CPR will go along way to bridging the gap. The key is finding what will work in each individual community. Best of luck and stay safe.


  2. Whilst I may not use CPR as frequently as my professional colleagues (and it’s a privilage to call them such), I’m not as “innocent” about it as you may think! I do have to use it on a regular basis, albeit monthly or fortnightly rather than daily.

    What gives CFRs a REAL advantage over our other amateur colleagues is that we see the professionals performing CPR on a regular basis. By professionals, I mean ambulance staff who treat their job as a profession. Unfortunately, I have seen an ambulance service member (ECA I believe) doing CPR with her fingers on the patient’s chest, rather than the heel of her hand!

    Initially, my CPR was only slightly more robust than the average First Aider/MOP. I’ve now learned that it must have some force behind it on most of my patients, simply by observing paramedics and EMTs. Some ECAs are also excellent, but some leave a bit to be desired!!!!

    Recently, I went to a patient who was “not breathing”. He didn’t have a pulse either. Tried the defib, but “No Shock Advised”.

    I started CPR, using everything I’ve learned from my professional colleagues. A minute or two later, the crew arrived. We worked together on the patient but ’twas to no avail.

    The paramedic – well, he was doing that job, although he had an incredible amount of writing on his lapels – called it. He asked me to go along with him and his assistant to tell the family. Essentially, we’d become a team, just for this once.

    As soon as we’d given the apalling message, I had to split to pick up my wife from work.

    About an hour later, I was lying on the bed, reading a book (a “thriller” novel; not about medical processes). My mobile rang, and it was the paramedic-plus. He’d rung to compliment me on my CPR and my general behaviour at an emergency.

    I was really chuffed – over the moon. I told him that, whilst I learned to do CPR over 40 years ago, it was watching people like himself that I’d learend to do it properly.

    Compliments from our professional colleagues (if I may call them such) are always good. We always gain from them – either to improve what we do, or to gain confidence in ourselves as in this case.

    (Any non-regular first aiders may not know what I mean about “confidence in ourselves”. There’s a world of difference between the classsroom and some patient’s house.)

    I’d just like to thank this super-paramedic for his comment.


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