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Can't we just cuddle?

I have been quite lucky in that i have had the privilege of having two careers, mostly running parallel to each other. My first career is in the leisure industry, my second is in criminal justice and law. You have heard a lot about the latter, but very little about the former. This article is going to take a tentative step into the former, by looking at something that should touch everyone, everywhere...CPR.

Let me try and define CPR for you...i do so to set the scene for the rest of the article. Note that my words are very carefully chosen in the hope i can put to bed some misconceptions. CPR, Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, is a medical intervention, given in a clinical or non clinical environment, aimed at keeping vital organs supplied with oxygen while the heart is unable to do so by itself.

As a trainer of CPR i tend to spout a lot of statistics at my trainees. Having done it for so long, its easy to lose track of the most up to date research. The following statistics are supported here.

Universal CPR knowledge is important because 70% of sudden cardiac arrests occur at home, and up to 15% of them at work. If you are faced with a sudden collapse its important that you know CPR well enough to be able to respond immediately. For every minute that someone is in cardiac arrest, the individuals chance of survival reduces by between 7-10%. This is fairly well managed in the UK by ambulance response times, which are 8 minutes for any suspected cardiac arrest.

So can't we just leave the patient until ambulance arrives? CPR is proven to make a difference to someone's survival, however there is a common misconception that CPR is going to make the patient suddenly sit up and walk away as if it never happened. In fact, a persons chance of survival with CPR alone is 2-8%. So before you do anything, call an ambulance. If you give CPR as soon as someone suffers the cardiac arrest, and the ambulance arrives within 8 minutes, the chance of survival is increased to 43%.

These statistics are there to show you how important it is to learn a bit of CPR, you could save someone's life. The thing with CPR, as is with any practical skill, you can quickly forget what you have been taught. Despite what you may have heard, CPR has never been as easy as ABC. It has been based on complex protocols, updated on a yearly basis, that have been based on little research.

In recent years, however, things have been getting better. A lot of research has been undertaken by the European Resus Council, the organisation that sets the European standard for CPR, and as a result of that CPR has become a lot easier.

There has been a lot of talk in the last couple of years about 'hands only' CPR, and yesterday this was finally supported by the British Heart Foundation. This step is hugely important because it signals the end of very expensive, time consuming, and boring CPR training, and as soon as this is adopted by the resus council, CPR training will no longer include complicated protocols.

The end to remembering the ratio of breaths to compressions. The end to cross contamination worries. And hopefully another step in the right direction of equipping everyone with CPR skills...skills that will stick with them for much longer than ever before.

Coming implications of CPR