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Are You Qualified to Save Someone's Life?

Updated on January 8, 2018
Tomaz Jelenko profile image

Tomaz is a 20 years old medical student from Slovenia, who loves to write about everything and tries to make the world a better place.


Ischemic heart disease is the leading cause of death for adults in Europe under 75 years of age. Sudden death is the result of the sudden cardiac arrest and respiratory failure, which is the result of coronary heart disease in more than 60% of adults deaths. Signs of sudden death include the absence of respiration and absence of signs of blood circulation. After 10-15 seconds there is a loss of consciousness, irreversible brain damage begins to occur after 4 minutes. Death occurs after 10 minutes. Procedures for patient intervention after a sudden heart failure are called the survival chain, in which all the elements are important and have a significant effect on the patient's survival.

Figure 1. Chain of survival.
Figure 1. Chain of survival.

The first element of the chain indicates the importance of identifying those at risk for heart failure and the onset of intensive care in order to prevent heart failure. The central elements illustrate the relationship between basic resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation as the basic components of early recovery in order to establish the functioning of the blood circulation. Immediate and correct implementation of the CPR can double or even triple the chance of survival following a cardiac arrest outside the hospital due to heart failure. The last element of the survival chain, effective after-care care, is intended for conservation the functioning of organs, especially the brain and heart. The European Resource Development Council (ERC) has developed and unified guidelines for basic and additional adult and child rejuvenation procedures and updates them every few years.

The Purpose of CPR

The purpose of the CPR is to maintain breathing and blood circulation without the use of brain and oxygen supplying equipment. Thus, the time required for the arrival of the team and/or equipment for additional revitalization procedures is obtained, which will then help us restore the blood circulation and breathing activity.

The Measures of CPR

The basic resuscitation procedures are a collection of measures, carried out one after another with the aim of maintaining the supply of vital organs with oxygen to the arrival of the team and/or equipment for carrying out additional resuscitation procedures.


1. Determination of responsiveness:

  • loudly call and gently shake the victim, especially when you suspect the damage to the spine
  • if the victim does not respond, call for help from the surrounding area
  • if there are two rescuers, one calls 911 and the second continues with CPR

Figure 2. Determination of responsiveness.
Figure 2. Determination of responsiveness.

If the victim answers your questions or moves:

  • leave the victim in an existing position (unless there is a risk that new injuries or complications might occur)
  • try to determine the cause of the problem
  • check the status at regular intervals and call for help (if necessary)

2. Relaxation of the airway:

  • turn the victim on the back
  • topple the head and lift the chin
  • if you suspect the damage to the neck spine, release the respiratory tract by lifting the jaws, opening the mouth, and hold the neck in a neutral position

Figure 3. Relaxation of the airway.
Figure 3. Relaxation of the airway.

3. Evaluating the signs of life:

  • 10 seconds
  • observe the movement of the chest
  • listen to the breathing sounds
  • feel the flow of the exhaled air
  • no not replace normal breathing with individual inhalation or by agonal breathing
  • Does the victim breathe or cough?
  • Does the victim respond to artificial respiration?
  • Does the victim move?
  • Carotid artery - pulse?

Figure 4. Evaluating the signs of life.
Figure 4. Evaluating the signs of life.

If the victim is breathing:

  • place it in the recovery position (if there is no danger of being extra damaged)
  • call for help by phone (911)
  • assess the situation of the affected person

Figure 5. Recovery position.
Figure 5. Recovery position.

If the victim does not breathe, signs of blood circulation are present:

  • artificial respiration (10 breaths/min)
  • check the presence of blood circulation signs every minute
  • call for help by phone (911)


4. Inform emergency medical assistance:

  • except when the victim was drowning; therefore you first start with CPR for 1 minute,
  • except for children where you first start with CPR for 1 minute and then call 911
  • if there are several rescue workers, one calls 911, and the other starts with CPR

5. External heart massage:

  • hard and flat base
  • place the palm of your hand in the middle of the sternum (chest), place the other hand on first and tie your fingers around it so that your fingers do not press the ribs
  • lean over the victim and with your arms tightly press perpendicularly to the sternum
  • compression depth is 4-5 cm
  • 100 compressions / min
  • 30 compressions : 2 breaths

Figure 6. External heart massage.
Figure 6. External heart massage.

6. Artificial respiration:

  • after 30 compressions
  • close the victim's nose
  • maintain a raised chin
  • take a deep breath
  • seal your mouth well
  • twice in a row, slowly (1s) breath in 500-600 ml of air
  • observe the raising of the chest
  • maintain an open airway
  • observe chest fall
  • even if both attempts were unsuccessful, continue with the new 30 compressions
  • only two attempts for two effective breaths
  • before the next two breaths (if they were not effective): clean the mouth with your finger and remove the foreign object and fix the position of victim's head

Figure 7. Artificial respiration.
Figure 7. Artificial respiration.

Complications during CPR

  • regurgitation of stomach contents into the oral cavity and trachea due to too rapid injection or excessive volume of sprayed air
  • chest compressions can cause a rib fracture, sternum fracture, lung damage, and liver or spleen damage
  • the fracture of the ribs may also occur in adults when the chest is pressed correctly because the ribs are no longer elastic enough


For a successful recovery, the most important decision is the prompt decision to start and the thorough and continuous implementation of the CPR. If there are more rescuers, they should be replaced in the implementation of the CPR every 1-2 minutes. All rescuers, irrespective of qualifications, must perform an external cardiac massage. Resurgence is not interrupted until the victim shows the signs of life, does not receive emergency medical help or until you get tired.

Would you perform CPR on a complete stranger?

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© 2018 Tomaz Jelenko


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    • Tomaz Jelenko profile imageAUTHOR

      Tomaz Jelenko 

      21 months ago from Slovenia

      Thank you! Trying to spread awareness :)

    • profile image


      21 months ago

      Good job!


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