CPR doesn’t work like that

Is there hope of drama with such a cliché device as the CPR rescue? There is never any doubt that those half-dozen gentle chest compressions are going to bring Lotte back in this scene from “Babylon Berlin”. (Also annoying: the series takes place before World War II –– decades before the development of the CPR technique employed here by Rath.)

The CPR trope not only fails as a dramatic device, it’s terribly misleading to audiences about the grim reality of cardiac arrest: Chances of survival without serious brain damage are almost zero if you don’t get defibrillation to restore an effective heart rhythm within about 12 minutes.

The value of early CPR is that it can buy time for the primary cardiac arrest patient by producing enough blood flow to the central nervous system and the myocardium to maintain temporary viability. To do so, however, basic CPR must be started early, and the earlier the better. Initial CPR must be followed by rapid defibrillation, intubation, and administration of cardiovascular medications by EMS personnel. Early bystander CPR is less helpful in resuscitation if EMS personnel equipped with the defibrillator arrive late, or about 8-12 minutes after collapse.

CPR is just one link in the chain of survival, pushing blood to the brain until defibrillation can be performed.

Different communities have done much better or much worse at putting the chain-of-survival concept into practice. Rates of surviving to hospital discharge ranged from 0% in the worst performing system to nearly 30% in the best performing system, one study found.

Anyway, enough ranting. Here’s where to find a CPR class near you:

CPR & First Aid Training Classes | American Heart Association

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