The Past, The Present and The Future.......

The first CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, was an open-chest heart massage that was performed in a hospital setting in the early 1950's. (The term cardiopulmonary resuscitation means: the revival or return to function of the heart and lungs.)

painful heart

The patient suffered a heart attack and subsequent respiratory and cardiac arrest, and the attending surgeon opened the patient's chest and began to massage the heart with his hands. Though a crude method to stimulate the heart, it was a successful maneuver which ultimately was the basis for the chest compressions we do today. The maneuver also served as a starting point for the training of rescue personnel in the life saving technique of CPR.

Later came the method of breathing for the victim in respiratory arrest. This is what we know as rescue breathing today. While this was an effective method to keep oxygen in the blood stream, it was, by itself, not as efficient as the combination of chest compressions and ventilations which serve to improve circulation, as well as oxygen saturation. This is the basis of what is taught in CPR classes today.

This CPR instructor is demonstrating proper technique for rescue breathing in the picture to the left. Students are able to practice ventilations and compressions on manikins during class. Simulations are incorporated into the practice time and students perform until they feel comfortable with their newly acquired skills. A feeling of confidence in handling emergency situations is one of the rewards of completing a CPR class.

In October 1992, the Emergency Cardiac Care Committee determined that in addition to chest compressions and ventilations, the adult victim in respiratory and cardiac arrest also needs the use of a defibrillator to increase the chance of survival. The defibrillator is used to stop the inefficient beating of the heart completely. Then the heart has the ability to begin again in a normal rhythm.

From this conference, the term "Chain of Survival" was born and rescue personnel now operate using this standard of care.

The components in the "Chain of Survival" are:

Early Access, Early CPR, Early Defibrillation and

Early Advanced Cardiac Life Support

CPR, by itself, is only about 5% effective! But we must remember that CPR is only one link in this chain. When all four links are in place, the rate of survival for the adult victim increases to about 40%. And as legislature allows more defibrillators to be used in public settings, the survival rate is expected to increase even more dramatically.


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