Since I shall soon be starting rotations in hospitals, I had to go through BLS (Basic Life Support) and ACLS (Advanced Cardiac Life Support) training and certification. Didn't take too long, and BLS was a recertification so that was no challenge - ACLS was a lot of new material and new sequences of information, along with a refresher course on EKG reading so that was fun! I particularly liked the instructor, as he had 42 years of experience as a paramedic and emergency department (ED) technician so he had lots of case examples to share with us.
Some take-away points for normal people which I feel I should mention - as it may save you or a loved one one day:
3 main things to know for CPR
1. Are they breathing? Do they have a pulse? (if no...)
2. Have someone call 911 and tell them to try to find an AED (often in hospitals, schools, major office buildings, gymnasiums) - no use doing CPR if no one is coming to help.
3. Chest compressions - fast and hard - at a rate of at LEAST 100/minute, so we're talking about 2 compressions per second. When you do compressions, middle of the chest (approximately between where the nipples are), compress about 2 inches into the chest. On kids, 1/3 of the way. *FYI: If you are doing compressions properly, you may very well end up breaking their ribs - don't let that stop you - keeping heart circulation going is much more important than a broken rib or two*
If you are comfortable doing mouth-to-mouth on this person (child, husband, etc.) do only 2 breaths, head tilted back, covering nose, and then go straight back to compressions -compressions are WAY more important, so alternate 30 compressions then 2 breaths.
Another take-away note about Strokes...
If you or someone else starts having signs of a stroke (one sided muscle weakness, face drooping on one side, difficulty speaking) - CALL 911 - DO NOT DRIVE THE PERSON OR YOURSELF (unless you are less than a block from a hospital MAYBE). Reason? You may feel well enough to drive yourself, or you may think you can drive your family member, but if an ambulance picks them up, then not only will they get en-route care, the hospital they deliver the person to will be completely prepared, with the neurologist, cardiologists, etc. all notified and ready to take care of the patient. It can take 45 minutes of assessment and evaluation once you get to the hospital before they decide it's a stroke and can do any therapy - by then, it may be too late.
Why is this so important? Fibrinolytics - you basically have a 3 hour window where you can be given a medicine that will essentially dissolve the clot in your brain. I have known people who drove themselves while having a stroke, or who started having a stroke in the middle of a golf course and played through to the end before going to the hospital - if you want that shot at a Fibrinolytic, which will GREATLY INCREASE your chance of restoring brain circulation, get to the hospital ASAP.
Bottom line: If you have a loved one, pass on this information so they get the fastest possible care, or so they know what to do if this happens to you. Time makes a MAJOR difference when it comes to blood not getting to your brain.
Enough with the public service announcements though - time to get back to studying for board exams! Wooh! Diuretic medications.