June 1–7 marks National CPR-AED Week

Lynda Knight

In conjunction with National CPR-AED week, Lynda Knight, MSN, RN, CPN, director of the Revive Initiative for Resuscitation Excellence at Stanford Children’s Health, shares information about the hospital’s Revive Initiative and the program’s goal to increase awareness of the importance of learning CPR and knowing how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).

The Revive Initiative is a robust, multi-component program that provides nurses, physicians and other medical staff and faculty the opportunity to practice their CPR skills in simulated scenarios and first-responder skill stations. The program focuses on team training and includes reenacting real-life emergency scenarios. Each year, the program also trains hundreds of Bay Area firefighters in a customized simulated environment and provides multiple bystander CPR training events to the community and corporations.

How often are Stanford Children’s staff and faculty trained in CPR?

Our staff and faculty attend recertification courses every two years, but because actual cardiac arrest events are rare, it’s important that they practice their CPR skills often. That’s why we have regular ongoing training of skills and simulated scenarios.

Why is it so important that people outside of the medical profession know CPR?

Most cardiac events don’t happen in a hospital environment, so knowing bystander CPR can save lives. Evidence demonstrates if a bystander can start chest compressions immediately and move blood to the brain, the patient’s chance of survival with a favorable neurological outcome increases. Every minute that goes by that someone suffering a cardiac event doesn’t receive CPR, the chance of survival goes down by 10 percent. On average, EMS can take 4 to 8 minutes to arrive, so that’s an 80 percent decrease in survival if a bystander can’t perform these life-saving skills of CPR.

If learning CPR is so important, what keeps more people from learning this life-saving skill?

When I work at events to advocate bystander CPR, I’m often struck by how few people know what to do, but are so interested in what to do, when someone is experiencing a cardiac arrest. I’m often asked if there is a risk someone will get sued if they administer CPR. I tell them that the Good Samaritan law protects individuals who come to the aid of another person in an emergency situation. People are also concerned that they might do something wrong when administering CPR and injure the individual, and I assure them that just by providing chest compressions and pumping to blood to the brain, they will have a greater chance of improving the person’s outcome than if they did nothing at all.

Where can I take a CPR class?

You can sign up for a CPR class, whether you are a medical professional or not, at http://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/classes

Are there other ways to learn CPR, other than attending a course?

CPR Anytime, a CPR training tool endorsed by the American Heart Association, is an effective and efficient method to learn CPR if you can’t make it to a class. Stanford Children’s Health has provided the CPR Anytime kits to patients’ families since 2009, and between then and now, ten families have contacted me to say they performed CPR and to thank Stanford Children’s Health for providing this tool. To date, more than 10,000 families have received the CPR kits at no charge, with an estimated multiplier impact of another 30,000 community members becoming trained in CPR.

The self-instructional kits include a 22-minute DVD in Spanish and English and an inflatable mannequin that is used to practice CPR.

Is it also important to know how to operate an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)?

An AED is a portable device that checks a person’s heart rhythm and can send an electric shock to the heart to try to restore a normal rhythm in the event of sudden cardiac arrest. CPR courses cover instructions on how to use an AED, but even without specialized training, someone can operate the device by following its visual and audio prompts. It’s in everyone’s best interest to familiarize yourself you’re your surroundings where you work and where your children attend school and play sports to see where an AED is located. If there isn’t one, ask for one to be installed.

How long is CPR certification valid?

CPR certification is good for two years, but it’s important to practice every three months or so. The CPR Anytime kits are an excellent way to brush up on your skills.

Is it still recommended to do mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as part of CPR?

In 2013, the technique for administering CPR was changed to chest compressions only. However, for pediatric patients, it’s still recommended that you give mouth-to-mouth.

Is there a recommended age for someone to learn CPR?

There is no minimum age requirement for a person to learn CPR, but you need to have the strength to give chest compressions. We believe that children as young as 8 years old can learn CPR.

What is the technique for administering CPR?

If you observe someone in cardiac arrest, the first thing to do is call 911. While you wait for help to arrive, perform chest compressions with proper hand placement according to the person’s age (for infants, use your fingers, not your hands). Push hard and push fast on the center of the chest and administer 100 to 120 compressions per minute.

What has been your most rewarding experience while working at Stanford Children’s Health and teaching CPR?

The most emotional experiences, for me, are when I meet patients who had CPR performed on them with early defibrillation and have gone on to live normal and wonderful lives. Although thousands of cardiac arrests occur out of the hospital, and many at home, only 30 to 50% will receive CPR prior to EMS arrival and only 5 to 10% will survive.  Through the dedication of the training that the Revive Initiative provides, we join the American Heart Association’s mission to double bystander CPR by the year 2020 with and save more lives!

Read the stories of Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital Stanford patients who have been saved by bystander CPR and AED administration:

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