Quick! You see someone that appears to have stopped breathing—would you know what to do to save that person? If you don’t know, you’re not alone. According to a 2018 Cleveland Clinic survey, only 54 percent say they know how to perform CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Only one in six know the recommended technique, because bystander CPR consists of just chest compressions on an adult. Even fewer, 11 percent, know the correct pace for performing these compressions. 

No worries. Hermann Emergency Medical Services (EMS) now has a portable CPR trainer that is used for learning and practice and they want to share it with businesses, schools, churches and county officials—anyone that wants to learn how to save a life using the CPR technique.

EMS Supervisor Doug Clark says the emergency medical sector’s teaching has been too complicated for the average person to feel adequate with the practice, when it is basically just doing chest compressions until an emergency medical staff arrives. But there is a little technique involved and practice makes perfect. 

EMS Paramedic Mike Mueller says the unit plays like a video game, giving real-time feedback on the user’s skill. He says research shows five minutes of CPR training on a unit similar to the one he built, is equivalent to 30 minutes of classroom training, so it’s an easy shortcut to learn CPR. “You’ll learn about the depth of compression and the rate of compression,” he says. “Our goal is to use chest compressions (depress the sternum area by two inches for each compression, 100 to 120  per minute), to circulate blood to the vital organs—specifically the heart and the brain—in an attempt to get the heart restarted where it can beat on its own.”

He says compressions serve the same purpose as the heart, which is to push blood out of the heart and when the person is not compressing, blood flows back into the heart.

“If you don’t compress hard enough, you don’t squeeze enough blood out of the heart to go to the rest of the body,” explained the paramedic. “And if you don’t completely let off of the chest, you don’t allow enough recoil to  the chest to allow blood to come back into the heart.

As to rate, he said if you compress too fast, the blood hasn’t had time to come back into the heart and if you go too slow, there is not enough oxygen circulating in the blood to go to the vital organs.

Paramedic Mueller says compression-only CPR is more effective than a combination of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

“Every time you stop (to do mouth-to-mouth), it takes a long time for blood pressure to build back up, so we’re doing a better job circulating blood to  the vital organs,” he explained. 

He says you are still getting 21 percent oxygen by creating negative and positive pressure with compressions, through the nose and mouth.

Once CPR is initiated, how long does the life saver have to continue their compressions?

“You only stop CPR if they show signs of life or if another trained person can take over the compressions to give you a break or if you are thoroughly exhausted and can’t continue—you will have done your best to save that person,” explained Mueller. “You do CPR, if you can, until the ambulance gets there.”

Hermann and New Haven Lumber Companies, Grannemann Sales and Service and Hagedorn Signs, Inc. made the new CPR trainer a reality and Rachel Korman and Chelsea Rohlfing from Hermann Lumber Company and Becky Hagedorn with Hagedorn Signs, Inc. were on-hand last Friday at the EMS station to try it out. 

They did well with their technique and Mike Mueller said their compressions would become even more consistent with practice. His own personal test was a 100 percent score, both with the rate and compression depth, illustrating the point.

“Early recognition and early intervention is what saves lives,” he said. “That translates into early CPR and quality CPR.”