COLUMBUS — Whether you're a paramedic, nurse, or untrained bystander, the American Heart Association wants you to start pumping a heart attack victim's chest, fast.
Guidelines issued today replace a 40-year-old directive that rescuers first check for an open airway and give rescue breaths before beginning chest compressions.
First and foremost, everyone should start with compressions, the association now says.
They should be delivered at a rate of at least 100 a minute.
“We're recommending that people sing that Bee Gees' song ‘Stayin' Alive,' in their mind” to keep a fast-paced rhythm going, said Holly Herron, director of the Grant Medical Center/Franklin County Firefighters Association Paramedic School.
To perform chest compressions, place the heel of your hand in the middle of the breast bone and push down 2 inches, she said.
At 100 compressions a minute, a rescuer could tire quickly.
If someone else is around, it's good to trade off until medical help arrives, Ms. Herron said.
She commended the change and said it's based on strong science, but added that it might take awhile before it becomes ingrained in everyone's mind.
“For us to do anything that implies that something is going to happen before ‘airway' is just amazing. It's going to take us old dogs a little bit of time before we can change the order that comes out of our mouths, but it makes absolutely perfect sense.'
For two years, the Heart Association has recommended hands-only CPR for bystanders.
Moving the blood is the most important part of CPR and, for many bystanders, the idea of giving breaths to a stranger stopped them from helping, said Dr. Michael Sayre, associate professor of emergency medicine at Ohio State University and a spokesman for the Heart Association.
These guidelines formalize the switch and call for retraining of emergency professionals who've long gone by the ABC (airway, breathing, compressions) method. Now, those who are trained in CPR will be taught a CAB approach.
“We've come to understand how it's really important to make CPR very, very easy to do because the big problem we have is rescuers not helping at all,” Dr. Sayre said.
“Everybody can do chest compressions, even if they haven't taken the course. It's scary, but if they call 911 and push hard and fast in the center of the chest, they really can make a big difference.”
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