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Top 10 CPR Myths & Excuses That I Have Heard

CPR can be a life saving skill that anyone can learn. However, since 2001, I have heard many different “myths & Excuses” surrounding CPR and the use of Automated External Defibrillators. The problem with these myths is they can prevent someone from taking a CPR and First Aid class or using the life saving skills they have learned when an emergency occurs. In an effort to increase the number of people who learn CPR, I have compiled this list.

10. “To relieve choking in a child you should lift the child up by the feet and shake.”

What? Definitely not. I’ve heard this one twice this week during infant CPR classes for new parents. This is a great example of why you should take an American Heart Association CPR class. You will learn not only how to do CPR but also the proper way to relieve a blocked airway also known as choking in infants, children and adults.

9. “Someone else will be able to help.”

The key to surviving cardiac arrest is the quick response of someone trained in CPR and First Aid. A friend or coworker who collapses and does not immediately receive CPR or First Aid has a reduced chance of survival. Bystanders need to act quickly and begin CPR and use an Automated External Defibrillator as soon as one arrives.

8. “You can learn CPR on-line.”

While it is true that you can learn the steps of CPR from an on-line class,it is absolutely ridiculous to think you could properly perform CPR on a real person after taking a computer based CPR class. Think about it like this; when you were sitting in driving class being taught how to handle a car on wet pavement was it anything like the first time you actually were driving on the
highway in the rain??? Hands-on practice is the key to developing muscle memory and proper technique. Make sure your CPR class includes a certified CPR, Automated External Defibrillator, and First Aid instructor, hands
-on practice, and is approved by the American Heart Association.

7.“CPR does more harm than good.”

I am not sure where this one started but it is absolutely false. When you are performing CPR it is on someone who is not breathing and is not responding. I hate to state the obvious here but, if someone is not breathing and not responsive most likely don’t have a heart beat in which case means they are DEAD. How can doing CPR possibly make being dead worse? It is true that
you may possibly break  ribs while performing CPR but I know that if my heart stopped beating I would much rather wake up with broken ribs than not wake up at all.

6. “Too expensive” or “Too long.”

CPR classes are very inexpensive when you consider the peace of mind they bring and the life changing effect of a lifesaving knowledge. New parents spend $50, $70, or more on new baby outfits all the time. Many infant CPR classes, which cover CPR as well as choking, cost the same amount. CPR class times can run between 2-6 hours. The information and skills learned can last a lifetime.

5. “CPR is only for Adults.”

It is true cardiac arrest is very uncommon in children and kids. However, infant and child CPR classes also cover how to open a blocked airway, also known as choking and a good instructor can provide extremely helpful information on accident prevention.

4. “I already know CPR.”

The American Heart Association is constantly researching and reviewing the best way to provide CPR. New guidelines were introduced in 2010. Every few years the guidelines change and it is always best to learn the most current guidelines. The American Heart Association recommends renewing your CPR and First Aid certification every 2 years.

3. “I will never have to do CPR.”

The chances that you will ever have to perform CPR are very small. However, choking is a common emergency and all American Heart Association CPR classes teach how to help someone who is choking. Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death in men and women. As of 2012, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama and Louisiana lead the United States in the prevalence of  cardiovascular disease. This statistic greatly increases the likelihood you will perform CPR on coworker, family member or community friend.

2. “I could get sued.”

All states now have some form of what is commonly called The Good Samaritan Law. These laws protect you, a Good Samaritan, from being sued, if in the course of trying to save someone, you cause injury.

1. “CPR always works.”

Unfortunately this is not true and is a very common belief that has been perpetuated by T.V and movies. The actual adult survival rate from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is about 5-10%. Survival rates increase when an Automated External Defibrillator is present and when it is able to deliver a shock. However, if your heart stops and no one starts CPR then your chance of survival is zero. As you can see there is a lot of  bad information out there regarding how, when, and why people should be performing CPR. The real issue with all these “myths and excuses” is that they could possibly stop someone from  learning CPR or providing CPR to a victim of cardiac arrest. It is the belief of that everyone should participate in a CPR and First Aid class and get involved in the safety of  their family, friends, and community.

– Mark L. Hughes, MBA, BSN, RN


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