Saturday, March 23, 2013

Could You Save a Life if You Had To?

Before they let us take our kids home from the NICU, they told us that we had to take an Infant CPR class. Why? Because we were taking home medically fragile babies, and there were decent odds that we'd need to know how to keep their hearts going if they stopped.

That was an awesome "Welcome to Parenthood" moment. Ugh!

Although I had been certified in CPR two times prior, it was very sobering to sit in the little conference room in the hospital and learn how to breathe for my babies. Just in case. I still remember looking around the table at the tense faces of the other NICU parents who were facing the same things.

Thankfully, I never had to use it. True, I did have to "remind" my babies to breathe a few times, but it never progressed to CPR.

A few weeks ago, I had an opportunity to renew my certification in Adult, Child, and Infant CPR through church. It was so much more laid back and easier than I remember it being! Turns out that the American Heart Association updated the CPR process to make it easier to remember and perform in a stressful situation. Thank goodness because I only have so many mommy brain cells working at the moment! Oh, and did I mention that they no longer test at the end of the class? It's really more of a hands-on group learning session than a class, so don't let that scare you.

I feel like knowing CPR is extremely important, regardless of whether or not you have medically fragile family members. If you go grocery shopping or eat out in restaurants, there is a chance that you might someday have the opportunity to save a life. So...could you save a life if you had to?

For the purposes of CPR and Choking, an adult is anyone age 8 and above. A child is between the ages of 1 to 8. And an infant is younger than 1 years old.

Can you remember "30 and 2"? Then you are well on your way to knowing CPR!
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Here is the CPR process for an Adult/Child:
  1. Check for responsiveness: Shout, "Are you okay?"
  2. Call 911, or tell someone else to do so while you start CPR.
  3. Assess breathing. This should only take 5-10 seconds. Move quickly so you don't lose time.
  4. Deliver 30 chest compressions. Remember to "Push Hard, Push Fast." (Adults should be compressed at least 2 inches. Children should be compressed 1/3 the depth of their chest.)
  5. Open the airway. Put your hand on the victim's forehead and other hand under the chin to tip the head back a bit.
  6. Give 2 deep breaths.
  7. Repeat until the victim starts breathing normally or until paramedics arrive.
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Infant CPR is much the same with only a few adjustments made for the delicate nature of the baby. Changes are in italics:
  1. Check for responsiveness: Shout, "Are you okay?"
  2. Do 2 minutes of CPR before calling 911 if you are alone. If someone else is present, tell them to call 911 immediately.
  3. Assess breathing. This should only take 5-10 seconds. Move quickly so you don't lose time.
  4. Deliver 30 chest compressions using two fingers and pushing down 1/3 of the depth of the chest. Remember to "Push Hard, Push Fast."
  5. Open the airway. Put your hand on the victim's forehead and other hand under the chin to tip the head back a bit.
  6. Give 2 puffs of air. (The amount of air that you can fit in your cheeks is about how much you want to give.)
  7. Repeat until victim starts breathing normally or until paramedics arrive.
That is SO much easier than how it used to be! I'm sure it helped that we had an awesome instructor in Diahanne VanGulick. She was very laid back and made the whole idea of saving a person's life seem like something we could actually do. I really appreciated her approach to it!

She also went over how to help someone who is choking. I didn't take photos of how to help an adult or child, but if you google the Heimlich Manuver or abdominal thrusts, you should be able to find a video. I did snap some photos of how to help a choking infant though!
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How to help a Choking Infant:
1. Assess for difficulty breathing, ineffective cough, or a weak or absent cry.
2. Use your arm and knee to support the infant with his head lower than his body. Use the heel of your hand to give five back blows.
3. Flip the infant over and use 2 fingers to give five chest thrusts.
4. Repeat until infant expells the foreign object or becomes unresponsive.
6. In infant becomes unresponsive, call 911 immediately and start CPR.

I think the thing that stood out the most, was that Diahanne said if we can only remember the chest thrusts, then do those. If we can only remember the breaths, then do those. Something is better than nothing, so do what you can remember. That is super manageable to me!

I encourage you to attend a CPR class in your area if you haven't recently. It's so important to know what to do in an emergency situation. If you are in the Kansas City area, you can call Diahanne to set up a class at 816-898-6542. If you aren't in our area, but want to find a class, go to the American Heart Association and use the locator tool to find a class near you (on the second page, choose "Family & Friends CPR" from the drop down menu). Our class took only about 90 minutes, was very cheap, and definitely was worth the investment to be prepared.

This post is in no way sponsored or commissioned by Diahanne or the American Heart Association. It's something that I feel is important, so I wanted to share it with you! Please make time to learn how to help your family and friends if there is an emergency!

So....could you save a life if you had to? 


  1. I was certified in CPR and first aid, but they have expired now. I am unable to get down onto the ground/floor to kneel anymore, so the way that the class was taught last time would not work for me--we had to get down on the floor to practice. I know they have changed things and made it more simple so I would like to retake the classes even though I am unable to work and use my elementary education degree right now. As you said, it could happen at any time in any place. I just couldn't complete the class if it required getting down on the floor.

    1. Sarah, make sure you read Diahanne's response below! She has some ideas on how to make re-certification work for you. Thanks for commenting!

  2. Hi Sarah,
    My name is Diahanne, I am the CPR Instructor that Rebecca is referring to in her blog here. American Heart Association allows us to accommodate each of our participants special needs. This would include allowing you to practice CPR with the manikin on a table. As long as you can show me that you are able to perform the skills I can certify you. The CPR courses benefit everyone! So, please take the class! Just let the instructor know in advance that you are unable to kneel on the floor.

    Are you in the KC area? If so, feel free to get in touch with me for further questions. I can let you know of my next class.

    In the meantime, feel free to check out the following link for learning hands only CPR:


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