I did a CPR review class recently for the local chapter of Mothers of Multiples. What a fun group! I visited them during one of their meetings to give them the chance to practice their CPR skills and to answer any questions they might have. It wasn't really a class and they had some great questions - some of which I had to really think about! I think it's good to get stumped by questions when I teach, it keeps me on my toes and reminds me why I should be reading all those updates and studies.
One of the moms in the group asked me a really interesting question though. She had been told that she was "too small" to do CPR on an adult male. She was rather petite and slender, but I had never heard of anyone being too small to do effective CPR. My immediate reply to her, as a mother of TRIPLETS she probably has more upper body strength than I do! I don't think I could pick up more than 2 kids at a time!
But looking at the physics & body chemistry involved in CPR I can't really see how anyone could be too small. When we perform chest compressions on an adult we use 2 hands and we lean over their body with our arms underneath our shoulders. We use the muscles of our back, abdominals, shoulders, and to a lesser extent arms, to perform chest compressions. We use the weight of our upper body to provide most of the force in the downward cycle of the compression. We don't use just our arms to perform the compressions - otherwise we'd get way too tired way too quickly! It is not meant to be a cardiovascular exercise - we compress evenly at 100 pushes per minute (try singing "Old MacDonald had a Farm") letting the weight of our upper body do most of the work. Secondly when we get excited or stressed our body releases a natural chemical called adrenaline. We've all heard the term of the adrenaline rush and possibly heard the stories of the frantic mom who has picked up a car (or other heavy object) to save their child. Well for most of us, the first time you see someone collapse and you need to start CPR you are going to have a serious adrenaline rush! I know I did the first time my son choked (yes we've done this twice!). Thinking back I still can't believe how quickly I had him up & out of that seat and on my arm doing infant back slaps.
Pretty much anyone can do chest compressions on anyone of any size. You do not need the strength of 10 men to perform adequate compressions. So the next time someone tells you that you are too small or too light or too weak to help someone who needs CPR just smile and don't listen to them. Because you can do it and you can make a difference for someone who needs your help.
June 1-7, 2009 is National CPR & AED week. Have you taken a CPR course recently?