And the Oscar for best CPR performance goes to...
It is that time of year again, not just Heart Month, but television and movie awards season. The Primetime Emmy Awards honor achievements in television, and the Academy Awards (aka, the Oscars) honor cinematic achievements in film. Though we can't all be Hollywood stars, we can all take home the award for best overall performance in a life-saving skill! Before you read on, think of Emmy and Oscar as people who may need your help. Will you be prepared to act if their hearts suddenly stop? Cinematic fade out
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is used when someone has had a cardiac arrest -- their heart has stopped beating and they are technically dead. A cardiac arrest is not "the big one" as comically portrayed on the 1970s TV show Sanford and Son; that is a heart attack. CPR is exceedingly trendy these days and can be seen everywhere in pop culture, if you are looking for it. And since I consider myself quite the resuscitation geek, I am always looking for it. But, in my defense, I can't help but see it, because like the quote from the movie The Sixth Sense goes, "I see dead people."
In the animated Dr. Seuss film The Lorax, the Lorax attempts to defibrillate the Once-ler with the cute fuzzy bears who inhabit the forest. In the recent M&M Valentine's Day commercial, one of the M's performs CPR. Even my 9-year-old daughter, who knows how much I love it when CPR shows up in everyday entertainment, pointed out that a character in a young adult novel she was reading performed CPR. See, CPR really is everywhere!
With CPR so visible in everyday life, surely everyone must know how important it is to be trained in this lifesaving skill, right? But as Marty McFly learns in Back to the Future Part 2, not everyone knows what CPR is or why it is so important. But that was the 1950s, and this, my friends, is 2015. It has been more than 50 years since CPR was found to improve survival from cardiac arrest. Yet even today, only about 30 percent of people who witness a cardiac arrest will perform CPR. That number is incredibly small and contributes to the overall low survival rate from this devastating condition: fewer than 10 percent of people who suffer a cardiac arrest in the U.S. will survive.
But it doesn't have to be that way. CPR holds the key to increasing survival from cardiac arrest because, as was said in the movie The Princess Bride, "he is only mostly dead and mostly dead is slightly alive." The only way to help bring someone back from mostly dead is to perform immediate CPR and defibrillation (if appropriate). Victims of cardiac arrest are screaming "I'm not dead" yet, just like those in the movie Monty Python and the Holy Grail -- you just need to help them come back, and the way to do that is by performing CPR.
CPR is fairly simple to perform. Really, if Homer Simpson can remember the steps of CPR, you can too! As Homer noted, you just need to do chest compressions while singing the Bee Gees' song Staying Alive. Okay, well he actually started singing How deep is your love, which still makes me chuckle every time, but his friend Lenny was there to correct him. That is why everyone needs to learn this life-saving skill.
CPR is performed by pressing hard and fast on the center of a person's chest at a rate of 100 compressions per minute. The tune "Staying Alive" is often associated with CPR because the beat of the song correlates to the rate of 100 compressions. In an episode of the TV series The Office, the main character Michael Scott practices CPR while singing Staying Alive. The entire office joins in, and a dance party ensues. Now, I don't suggest celebrating until the victim has been revived because it is hard to do effective CPR while dancing.
Studies have shown that the longer a victim goes without CPR, the less chance of survival. So if you want to break into song, that's fine, but hold off on the dance party until after the victim's pulse has returned.
Performing CPR can be scary and intimidating, especially for people who are not healthcare providers; but, to take home the award for best performance in a life-saving skill, you have to act. As comedian and actress Amy Sedaris so comically put it on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon while she was teaching him CPR, "I'm the best chance you got right now." So true Amy, so true! You may be the only chance someone in cardiac arrest has of surviving. Consider this like The Hunger Games, you have to do want ever it takes for the cardiac arrest victim to survive (picture Katniss desperately trying to revive Peeta with CPR in Catching Fire).
I will close by saying, when you see a Beastie Boys mash up video of Body Moving, with TV and movie clips of CPR being performed, you know that the subject has hit the mainstream. Therefore, my hope is that when called upon to act, there will be fierce competition in the category of "best CPR performance in a life-saving skill." So please get your body moving and learn CPR As Princess Leia so eloquently stated, "Help me Obi Wan Kanobi, you're my only hope!"