Premier Marinas invited Liz Baugh, founder of Red Square Medical to run a refresher course on CPR and defibrillators for all berth holders as part of the national Restart a Heart week. This campaign is to provide enough basic information to as many people as possible, so more by-standers in a cardiac arrest situation have the confidence to “have a go” and hopefully keep someone alive until Emergency Services arrive and take over.
I have attended a number of CPR courses and every time I learn something new, partly because there is always more to learn, and partly because medical recommendations are changing. Liz Baugh, formerly a RN Medic now runs a successful marine medical training consultancy, and she is a wonderful trainer herself. She kept us engaged, amused and informed. This event was run virtually, and one of the challenges of this format is to find ways for people to practice rather than just watch. Liz asked us all to bring a pillow, an old pillowcase and a marker pen. We had to draw a head and torso on the pillowcase and that made a life-size dummy to practice on. A prize was awarded for the best drawing – James and Ali were the winners with this cheeky lady, who doesn’t seem to be suffering too badly from the experience.
This illustrates a serious point actually – proportionally more men receive attempted resuscitation than women, due mainly to the reluctance to get personal with a woman’s chest area even in such a dire situation. Liz told us that there is legal protection for anyone trying to save a life or administer first aid. If anyone is afraid of American-style litigation, don’t listen to the scare stories and have a go whoever they are.
Another useful explanation was the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest. One may lead to the other but not necessarily, and there are other causes of cardiac arrest.
Think of your heart as an electric bilge pump, working hard to pump seawater out of a flooding boat. A heart attack is like a lump of seaweed getting jammed in the pump, or a pipe collapsing. The pump may still work but the seaweed is significantly reducing the efficiency of the pump and it needs urgent attention. A cardiac arrest is like an electrical failure that stops the pump. No water is being pumped and very quickly the boat will sink. A heart that stops is no longer supplying oxygenated blood to the brain, and without a blood supply the brain will soon die. CPR is like turning the pump over manually to keep the water flowing – or blood, in the case of your heart “pump”. This won’t solve the problem long term but will buy time and keep the brain alive until help arrives.
One of the best short videos of CPR is the Vinnie Jones film from the British Heart Foundation: you can watch it here.
A defibrillator can re-start a stopped heart by administering an electric shock and “bump-starting” the electric motor that is the heart. Liz also demonstrated the use of a defibrillator with a film from Red Square Medical resources.
You can access this instructional video for free by registering here
The back of the flyer illustrated in our header image is a quick guide to the CPR process.
Doing something is always better than doing nothing.