When you’re faced with an emergency where someone’s heart stops, knowing how to perform CPR can make all the difference, that is, it can be the decisive factor in whether that person will survive. Brooke Berryman from Fort Worth knows this best. She had the proper CPR training and no issues jumping into action, which is how she saved the life of a fellow hiker.
However, even with the best intentions, if you’re not trained to give CPR, you might end up making mistakes that can reduce the effectiveness of the method. Common mistakes when performing CPR can be anything, from placing your hand incorrectly to not pushing deep enough. Such mistakes can have serious consequences, so it’s up to you to be as prepared.
If you ever find yourself in a situation that calls for CPR, you want to be confident enough to do it. So, let’s take a closer look at the common mistakes made during CPR so you can avoid them and become an effective responder that someone might need.
Not Checking the Safety of the Environment
You can easily skip this step when in a hurry to help. However, it’s very important to check if the scene is secure before administering CPR to the person in need. If the environment isn’t safe, you could be putting yourself and the victim in more danger.
Sure, every second counts, but you must take a breath and quickly scan the area before taking any action. If there’s a live electrical wire, a toxic substance, or an ongoing fire, which you don’t assess, then this could easily lead to an unexpected disaster.
If you get yourself injured as well, you’ll be leaving the victim without immediate help, and the emergency services will need to take care of one more person. Keep your well-being in mind because your safety is just as important as the person you’re trying to help.
Not Calling EMS Right Away
When you’re in the middle of a crisis, and someone’s been in an accident or has lost consciousness, your first instinct might be to start CPR immediately. It’s a common reaction, but it’s also one of the common mistakes when performing CPR.
Often, people either forget to call Emergency Medical Services or assume someone else has already done it. So, before starting chest compressions, you must make sure someone has called an ambulance or do it yourself if you’re alone.
Sure, immediately giving the victim CPR can double or even triple their chances of survival, but it’s still a temporary measure designed to maintain blood flow to the brain and vital organs until the medical professionals get there. EMS dispatchers in Texas must be CPR certified so they can guide you through the process over the phone.
By not calling EMS right away, you’re potentially delaying access to life-saving interventions like defibrillation or advanced airway management that only trained personnel can provide.
Failing to Assess the Victim Properly
Before you even think about starting CPR, you’ve got to make sure that the victim needs it. You need to quickly assess their condition by following a few simple steps:
- Check for Responsiveness. Give them a gentle shake and loudly ask, “Are you OK?”. Wait for a response, and if there is none, move on to the next step.
- See If They’re Breathing. Look at, listen, and feel their chest for about 10 seconds. If you don’t notice the chest rise or fall or don’t feel their breath on your cheek, then it’s time to start CPR.
- Check Their Pulse. Use your middle and index fingers to feel for a pulse on the side of the victim’s neck for at least 5 seconds but no more than 10. If you can’t feel a pulse, you can start doing CPR.
Incorrect Hand Placement During CPR
When you’re learning CPR, one of the first things the instructor will show you is where to place your hands during chest compressions. It’s not complicated, but it’s easy to get it wrong if you’re not paying attention.
If you place your hands too high toward the neck, you risk damaging the ribs and not effectively pumping the heart. Place them too low, and you might press on the upper abdomen, which can cause internal trauma and reduce the effectiveness of each compression.
Incorrect hand placement can lead to inadequate blood flow and even injury, so it’s important to get it right, and you will by following these steps:
- Find the exact spot of the person’s breastbone where the ribs come together.
- Place the heel of your hand on the center of their chest, right between the nipples.
- Place your other hand on top and make sure to interlock your fingers.
- Keep your arms straight and position yourself directly over the victim’s chest.
Inadequate Depth and Rate of Compressions
When you’re pressing down on someone’s chest during CPR, your compressions need to be deep enough to help their heart pump blood. Each compression should be at least 2 but no more than 2.4 inches deep for adults. You might worry about pressing too hard, but without that depth, you’re not giving the victim the strong push their heart needs.
On top of this, you’ve also got to keep a steady rhythm of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. If you go too slow, the blood won’t be able to circulate fast enough to reach the brain and other vital organs, but if you speed through it, you’re not giving the heart enough time to refill with blood between compressions.
Not Using an AED Use When Available
When someone’s heart stops, doing CPR is vital, but if there’s an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) nearby, using it shouldn’t be an afterthought. AEDs are designed to be user-friendly. You don’t need to be a pro to use one, you just need to do the following:
- After calling for help and starting chest compressions, send someone to grab the AED immediately.
- Turn it on and follow the prompts while continuing CPR until the machine is ready to analyze the heart’s rhythm.
- Stick the pads on the chest as indicated, and if the AED advises a shock, make sure no one is touching the victim before you shock them.
- Continue doing chest compressions until emergency services take over or the person starts to show signs of life.
Your ability to use the AED and your resuscitation attempt can almost double a victim’s chances of survival. So, remember that these devices are meant to help you and not intimidate you.
Lack of Confidence and Hesitation
When you’re faced with a medical emergency or accident where CPR is necessary, a lack of confidence can lead you not to take action right away. In those situations, every second counts, and delaying action can reduce the chances of survival for the person in need.
CPR, even if not performed perfectly, can still help maintain blood flow to the brain and other vital organs until professional help arrives. But knowing the right CPR techniques is even more helpful, which is why you need to get proper training and refresh your knowledge regularly.
Local community centers, hospitals, and health organizations often offer courses that can boost your competence and confidence. When you know that your CPR skills are sharp, you’ll never hesitate to jump into action and help save a life, so knowing this technique is more than worth it.
CPR Mistakes: Making Things Right
It’s important to remember that even the smallest or most common mistakes when performing CPR can make it less effective. Errors like incorrect hand placement or inadequate depth or rate of compressions can hinder your efforts to save a life during an emergency.
Proper training and consistent practice are your best chance at avoiding these mistakes. By staying informed and refreshed on CPR, you can feel more confident and competent.
So, take the time to get CPR certified and practice regularly. Your ability to perform CPR correctly can make all the difference during times of crisis, and you can even end up saving a life. So, stay prepared and stay informed, and know that you can always help someone in need.