What I Learned in My CPR Class This Year

Every couple years I renew my CPR certification because I am concerned about my fellow man. Okay, that is a lie, I renew it because I do some coaching on occasion and I need to know how to put a band-aid on someone’s forehead when they get elbowed in the noggin, and it is some kind of law. Anyway now that we have determined that I am not Gandhi, I thought I would pass along some of the gems of knowledge I learned last night.

1. Anytime there is an amputation find a size appropriate bag. Now this makes sense, if you find a thumb on the ground put it in a small plastic bag. Big plastic bags make it harder for the doctor to find the missing thumb. You also don’t want to put a large limb in a small bag. It won’t fit and you don’t want to have to chop it up to fit it in the zip-lock baggie. Oh, you should also keep it cold, so don’t put it in your pocket.

2. Bandsaws are ineffective at severing larger limbs. You can always zip off a finger with a bandsaw, but for the really big stuff you will need a chainsaw or chop-saw.

3. Your number one priority when helping anyone injured is to avoid being vomited on. This was emphasized many, many times. Always help someone with their mouth turned away from you. If they are going to vomit you can always put a bag on their head. Do not use the bag with a severed limb and do not put the entire bag over their head, that could cause them to stop breathing.

4. CPR has changed. When I first started this training the idea was to give five compressions for every breath. Then the ratio went to 15-1, now you do 30-2. These changes don’t make me too confident in science in general. Let me explain. The human body is something that we all have and it should be easy to study. By now we should know how it works, but apparently how we work is still a scientific mystery. So when a scientist says that they know that Black Holes exist because they figured it out by using mathematics I must admit I am a bit skeptical. If science can’t figure out the simple stuff, like how often to break somebody’s ribs in an attempt to save their life, then what hope is there that Black Holes really exist?

5. Tylenol is an effective poison. Too much Tylenol is dangerous, don’t drink it even if it tastes good.

6. Never use ipecac to induce vomiting. See rule three for some guidance on this one, but after years of telling people to throw up after drinking poison we are now deciding that it is more important to call 911 and let the professionals take care of it. If you live in the boonies and don’t have 911, then inducing vomiting is probably okay, but realize just because someone is vomiting is no reason to rest on your laurels and relax. The vomitee will still have remnants of whatever has caused them to toss cookies in the first place, so get an ambulance ASAP.

7. Giving the Heimlich Maneuver to someone can be done a variety of ways, but always have the victim point their face away from you. See rule three for further guidance. Now the instructor said he had never given the Heimlich to someone who had not passed out from lack of oxygen. I, on the other hand, have done the Heimlich many times to someone who had not passed out yet. I worked next door to someone who had a tiny-tiny throat and would get stuff stuck in his pencil sized tube of an esophagus about twice a year. I began to wonder if he did it on purpose just to get a big hug from me.

8. If you get something large stuck in your body, don’t pull it out right away. Wrap something around it and then go to the hospital. If the object is stuck to something else (rebar in poured concrete) call the professionals and have them come to you. Don’t remove yourself from the rebar, call 911 and wait. If you start to go into shock, elevate your legs, wrap something around your head (not a plastic bag) and try to stay warm.

Is the world a safer place after my little adventure to CPR class last night? Maybe, but the world does sound much more dangerous in a CPR class.

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