As more people take precautions against health dangers and prepare for emergencies in their lives, more Americans are learning emergency techniques such as CPR, the Heimlich Maneuver for choking, and rescue breathing. The American Red Cross offers low-cost classes in these techniques.
“CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation) is a method which maintains blood circulation and oxygenation of the blood until the person can reach medical attention,” said John Pacheco of the Santa Monica American Red Cross. “What has been learned, especially in the last five or ten years, is that CPR is really the method that can be used until a patient or victim can be defibrillated. Normally, other than a traumatic injury to the heart, when we think of someone that’s had a heart attack, we’re talking about someone whose rhythm has been disrupted, either too fast or too slow or irregular. CPR maintains a paced rhythm of compressions and circulation of oxygenated blood until a paramedic [gets there], or nowadays because of all these automatic defibrillators that you can get, until that can be applied to re-set the rhythm of the heart.”
CPR can also be used to start up the heartbeat in a person who lacks a pulse. This is seen usually in younger children after an electric shock or a drowning incident, said Pacheco.
The usual CPR class is broken up into segments dealing with CPR, rescue breathing, and Heimlich, as well as the different techniques for adult and child CPR. Since knowledge of CPR is being promoted in the workplace, adult CPR “is probably our most popular class,” said Pacheco.
Specialized classes in child CPR benefit people who work in childcare or pediatrics. A person can take one or more types of CPR depending on workplace and personal needs. CPR and Heimlich technique for pets is also offered.
CPR classes typically last for about four hours and begin with an instructor giving information about the cardio-vascular system and heart function, accompanied by videos. Later, students practice rescue breathing (mouth-to-mouth resuscitation), Heimlich, and CPR on mannequins.
Each student who demonstrates to the instructor that he or she is able to perform these techniques receives a certification card. While formerly these cards were good for one year’s certification, the American Red Cross recently extended the certification period to two years, Pacheco said. Card holders may go online during the time period to “refresh” their knowledge of CPR. You can also recertify ACLS online at the comfort of your home.
CPR classes at the Red Cross cost from $45 to $55 and registration is available online. All classes are OSHA certified. Both lay persons and professionals can also take instruction in the use of automated external defibrillators (AEDs).
For more information about CPR and other classes at the American Red Cross, go to redcross.org