The recommended technique and focus of cardiopulmonary resuscitation has changed over the years and the changes reflect the growing knowledge about its effectiveness. If you haven't ever taken CPR classes or it has been a long time since you took a class, you will want to take 1–2 hours of your time out to take one of the newer classes from a company like Respond Systems Alaska.
The Old Way
Anyone that has ever taken a class before 2010 will remember that artificial respiration and CPR compressions used to be taught in cycles of 15:2 (compressions/rescue breaths) or 30:2, with two rescue breaths initiating the cycles.
Changes and Why
Your blood contains oxygen and nutrients that the cells need to function. Scientists have found that keeping the circulatory system going should be the primary focus of resuscitation. Interruptions in the compressions to perform artificial respiration actually reduce the effectiveness of resuscitation attempts. It is important to note that when you come across an unresponsive adult, the emergency is likely to be cardiac arrest.
Your blood has enough oxygen in it to last for several minutes. Not only that, but there is a type of agonal or reduced breathing that people do when near death that also provides the lungs with some oxygen that gets into the blood. With these two factors, the compressions will keep a person's body cells supplied with what they need for several minutes while you are awaiting for rescue services to arrive.
So the current hands only training has an emphasis on getting compressions started and not stopping, with a rate of 100 per minute. Done correctly, this would be adequate to prevent tissue damage. The sensitive neurons that make up a person's brain need this circulation or they will die. It is estimated that they start to die from 4–6 minutes after blood circulation stops and for every minute thereafter 10% more die. By the sixteen minute mark, a person may be totally brain-dead from lack of blood circulation.
What Is Taught
So when you take a CPR class, you will still be taught both artificial respiration and compression techniques but the routine will be different. You will be taught to access the situation and the person having trouble. If that person is unresponsive, you will begin by making sure 911 is called. Then you will check for breathing and begin compressions. You will be taught to stop only when help arrives, someone else is willing to take over, or you become worn out from doing them.
If you are taking this as a requirement for a job, many employers only require you to take CPR for adults. This class or its refresher version may only last an hour or two. There are more extended versions you can take such that also teach infant and child CPR techniques. Artificial respiration is emphasized more with children since breathing emergencies, rather than heart issues, are more prevalent with them, from accidents such as drowning. This still done at the ratio of 30:2 for children.
Professional CPR classes are taught for healthcare employees and will include advanced resuscitation techniques. These also include instruction and practice on using an AED (Artificial External Device).
The current training is relatively easy, and is mostly hands only. It is a lifesaving skill that will enable you to be able to perform or assist whenever needed. Knowledge and practice for an emergency are invaluable assets to have, and if the victim is a loved one, you will be doubly glad to know what to do.