Q: What should I do if I think the person with me is having a heart attack?
If you understand the "chain of survival," which includes knowing how to perform Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), you'll know where to start. You could possibly prevent the cardiac arrest death of a loved one, friend or neighbor by knowing when to phone 9-1-1 and when to begin CPR. Early access to trained emergency responders through 9-1-1, knowing how and when to begin CPR, and getting early advanced care for a heart attack or stroke victim can save his or her life.

More specifically, the American Heart Association 's adult chain of survival has four links of actions to perform should you be with an adult who becomes suddenly unresponsive:

  • Phone 9-1-1.
  • Begin CPR.
  • Perform defibrillation (performed by emergency responders).
  • Transfer to a hospital.

Q: What is CPR?
A: CPR is a means of providing breathing and circulation to an unresponsive person. It is best taught in a training class. In general, the steps of CPR can be remembered as ABC:

  • Airway: place the victim flat on his back on a hard surface and open his airway by tilting the head back with one hand while lifting up the chin with your other hand.
  • Breathing: look, listen and feel for signs of breathing. If the victim is not breathing normally, give two slow rescue breaths.
  • Circulation: Check for signs of response to the rescue breaths (such as normal breathing, coughing or movement). If the victim is responding but not breathing normally, continue giving rescue breaths (one breath every five seconds). If there are no signs of circulation, begin chest compressions by placing the heel of one hand on the lower part of the victim's sternum and then placing the other hand on top of the first hand. Depress the sternum 1.5 to 2 inches and perform 15 compressions to every two breaths. If the victim responds, stop the compressions. If the victim begins breathing normally, turn him onto his side and wait for rescue personnel.

Q: How can I learn CPR?
A: Palmetto Health regularly offers CPR training courses in the basement of 1501 Sumter St. on the Palmetto Health Baptist campus. Call 296-2273 for more details.

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