“If they turn blue, we breathe for them.”
How to Cut the Knot in Your Stomach – A Super Simple Guide to CPR
After graduating from nursing school, I jumped right into the Pediatric Cardiac ICU (for kids after they had open heart surgery). How I wish I could just see what that looked like from the outside. Young 21-year-old me, wide-eyed and eager to learn. I felt prepared & completely unprepared at the same time. I had excellent training. There was just so much going on in that ICU. Though it was crazy-intense, we saw so many good things happen. Of course, we were on the edge of our seats most of the time. We joked that we needed roller skates just to keep up. I remember one night in particular. I was working the nightshift because I was a newbie. The unit was mixed with experienced and new staff to assure safety for the patients. The frail little patient I was taking care of started to show signs of distress. I was on top of it. I called the team in and after a thorough exam, they told me to “just watch her.” I had a knot in my stomach for the next two hours. Breathe, little baby. Breathe. A very experienced staff member saw the look in my eyes and without discouraging my diligence in observing this newborn said, “If they turn blue, we breathe for them.” It suddenly all clicked. We were doing everything we could to keep her stable and in good health. After that, all we can do is jump in to rescue if her body gave up. It took the anxiety level way down. Why? We were equipped to rescue.
A lot of us worry about the in between as if we can do anything to change it. That knot in your stomach might be tightening just reading all this. Breathe and read on. Here’s an approach that can help you confidently approach any emergency situation. I write more about this in my free eBook “SUPER SIMPLE CPR.” You can download that here (for free, of course).
One of the most helpful things to keep in mind is that in an emergency, just a small handful of things need our attention first. From my experience in emergencies…we want to do everything all at once. It’s usually what causes us to be so flustered. Before anything else, you need to determine whether someone needs CPR or not.
If CPR is Needed, then nothing else matters at the moment because the victim is teetering between life and death (closer to the death side) and we need to focus our efforts on pumping blood to the body. That sounds really complicated, but it isn’t. I can’t go into all of it here, but I explain it in full depth in “Super Simple CPR.” How do you determine if someone needs CPR? Two simple checks:
1. Check to see if they’re responding to you by tapping them and shouting their name,
2. Check to see if they’re breathing.
That’s it. If they’re not responding to you and not breathing (or only gasping), you’ll start CPR. CPR will always take priority over any other first aid need.
If They Don’t Need CPR, we will tend to the most life threatening needs first. At the top of this list is breathing, level of consciousness, and bleeding. These three things can turn sour quickly and we want to prevent CPR, if possible.
Get Help Quickly
At the risk of sounding obvious, I will mention this point. Actually, I will emphasize this point. Too many times in an emergency, people will call out into a crowd hoping that someone will call 911. Unless, you have made eye contact with someone, you have no way of knowing that anyone will actually call. We need help to arrive and continue care. I strongly recommend that you get a basic understanding of CPR and First Aid, but if you freeze in the moment, the dispatcher will also refresh your memory and stay on the line until help arrives.
That little baby I was taking care of did turn blue, so we breathed for her, and then she was okay. We can’t always guarantee a positive outcome, but we can be ready to give someone the best fighting chance! Be empowered and cut that knot in your stomach. Download your free copy of “Super Simple CPR”…did I mention it’s a 10 minute read?
What other topics get your stomach tied up in knots? Share your comments…when we verbalize our fears and empower ourselves with knowledge, we can cut more knots!
Reference: Gonzales, L., Lynch, M., & Bork, S. (Eds.). (2011). Heartsaver First Aid CPR AED Student Workbook Health & Safety. United States of America: First American Heart Association Printing.
This was a guest post written by Grace. I am excited to have her writing at Meaningful Mama to address such an important topic! I’d love for you to learn more about what she is doing to help educate people on safety issues for children.
Hi, I’m Grace. I help parents feel more confident about CPR and provide research-based resources for healthy families on my blog, Precious Hearts by Grace, where you can get my free eBook, “Super Simple CPR.” With extensive experience as a Registered Nurse in one of the nation’s leading Pediatric Cardiac Intensive Care Units, I was inspired to begin teaching CPR and First Aid. Now, it’s more than that! I am committed to distilling a variety of research to help you make the best decisions for your family! Currently, I live in Nashville with my ever-so-talented musician husband.