Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a widely known technique and is a central feature of any first aid course. Since its method of restoring and maintaining blood flow throughout the body is quite simple—performing 100 chest compressions per minutes—it is quite straightforward and easy to administer. However, it is often used in conjunction with another process known as artificial respiration (AR), in which the person administering the first aid care breathes air into the recipient's lungs. The two techniques are combined to keep oxygenated blood pumping throughout the victim's body, which can prolong and even save their life.

Why CPR?

Knowing CPR can mean the difference between life and death for you or your co-workers. When an accident happens on the job, if you are prepared to react as the first responder until further help arrives, the chances of survival can be greatly increased. As an employee, employer, or just as a responsible citizen, it's good to ensure that you are knowledgeable about the process in the event of an accident.


How It Can Help

CPR gives you the knowledge to help save the life of a loved one, a co-worker, or even a stranger in peril.

Let me share a story with you that illustrates how important this can be. When I was riding in the school bus as a boy, my bus driver—a heavyset man of about 300 pounds—suddenly fell over on the wheel and then to the floor. I was paralyzed with fear and panic, watching the color slowly fade from his face and hearing the sound of my classmates screaming.

One of the older students, a lifeguard at our local pool, ran up to the front of the bus and started following the steps outlined in his first aid training. He felt for a pulse using following what I now know as the "look, listen, feel" method and determined that the bus driver's heart had stopped and he was no longer breathing. He then immediately dove into action and began administering CPR and AR to attempt to resuscitate the bus driver until emergency medical responders could arrive.

At that point, realizing I was the fastest runner on the bus and feeling that I had to do something, I ran to the nearest house and got the neighbors to call 9-1-1 (there were no cell phones yet!)

Soon after the call, the ambulance arrived and my bus driver had been revitalized using a defibrillator and advanced CPR. The doctors said that if AR and CPR would not have been done initially, our bus driver surely would have died.

Witnessing that event gave me a first-hand understanding in how CPR can save a life. But no one should have to learn that the hard way—and if that older student hadn't been there to intervene, it might have been an even harder lesson to learn.

What to Do In an Emergency

The first thing you should do in an emergency is find a trained professional.

Many people who are not qualified to provide CPR and AR can do more harm than good when they try to diagnose and treat the injury. If you only know CPR from seeing it done in the movies, do your best to get help from anyone who has been trained.

If you are trained, it's your duty to begin administering first aid in the event of an emergency. Perform the techniques you have learned and do everything you can to help save a life.

How to Get Certified

The American Red Cross provides CPR training in the United States, but it can also be completed by local fire departments and the American Heart Association (AHA). In Canada, certification courses are offered nationwide by independent trainers, the two most popular providers being the Canadian Red Cross, and the St. John's First Aid and CPR Training courses.

Many employers offer a reimbursement program for those looking to get certified. You can also take the initiative to get certified on your own dime to increase your chances of getting a job.

Be sure to check for courses and programs in your area so you can get the edge on safety!