CPR: Understanding the Rate of Chest Compressions

The CPR mantra is push hard and push fast. But what is hard and what is fast?

The utility of chest compressions in the wilderness context is dependent on the underlying cause for arrest. For example, a patient that has no pulse and breathing after a loss of consciousness underwater had a healthy heart at the time of arrest. Chest compressions and rescue breathing may provide the oxygenation and perfusion for return of spontaneous circulation. If the patient’s cardiac arrest was caused by a myocardial infarction CPR alone will not fix the underlying problem. It just buys time. The patient needs an AED, paramedics, and a hospital. Quickly!

WMA Assistant Instructor Tim Sheehan supervises paramedic students during their hospital emergency department training. According to Tim many students struggle to maintain the proper rate of 100 compressions per minute. Tim says, “If you are going to do CPR you might as well do it right.”

Well how do you know if you are doing 100 compressions per minute?

Tim tells us, “All of the code carts in the emergency department have a metronome.” A metronome is a simple tempo device that clicks or beeps at a prescribed beats per minute.

Two online metronomes are available at
http://webmetronome.com/or . You might be able to load a metronome into your smart phone or PDA.

If you don’t have access to a web based metronome sing the famous Bee Gees song, Stayin’ Alive, as you compress. Barry and the boys are grooving at about 100 beats per minute.

Submitted by:
Greg Friese, MS, NREMT-P, WEMT
President, Emergency Preparedness Systems LLC


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