A Phone App for CPR

screen shot of iPhone American Heart Association Hands-Only CPR appDid you know there is a phone app that can help you do CPR? Now, if I suddenly collapsed and my heart stopped beating, I’d want whoever was nearby to immediately leap into action, not whip out a cell phone to figure out what to do. But the app, which I just downloaded on my phone, was developed by the American Heart Association for its Hands-Only CPR campaign and it’s quite helpful.

Take a look at the image of the app on the left of the page. At the bottom are links to instructions, a video, and additional resources — all things to look at ahead of time.

At the top are tools you can use in the heat of the moment. Hit #1 and it will automatically dial 911, which is the first thing you need to do if someone collapses and is unresponsive. Hit #2 and you can do CPR right along with the animated demonstration.

The Hands-Only CPR app is free and currently available for the iPhone, Android, and Palm Pre phones. It’s coming soon for Blackberry.

Amelia Santos, marketing intern for Maine Red Claws, learns Hands-Only CPR

Amelia Santos learns Hands-Only CPR at the Healthcare EXPO

I learned about the app at the Healthcare EXPO MaineToday Media and Harvard Pilgrim sponsored this past weekend. The Maine Chapter of the American Heart Association (AHA) had a table and I stopped to watch Amelia Santos, an intern with the Maine Red Claws, learn how to do Hands-Only CPR.

The Heart Association developed the technique to make it easy for anyone to do CPR on an adult. Katie Rooks, the Maine Chapter’s Director of Corporate Events told me if an adult suddenly collapses and is unresponsive, 99 percent of the time his/her heart has stopped. The critical first step is that you or someone who is with you must immediately call 911. The next step is equally important. You need to start chest compressions immediately. Push hard and push fast is the AHA’s mantra. By push hard Katie says down about 2 inches — you need to get through the rib cage, which is there to protect the heart. Fast is 100 beats a minute. If you know Stayin’ Alive by the Bee Gees, hum it — that’s the correct beat.

Katie explained why compressing the chest is so important: “You’re literally pumping that person’s heart, that’s the whole point of CPR — to press on the heart. That’s going to make the blood flow through the body from head to toe — the whole body. What you’re doing is circulating the oxygen and there is a ton of oxygen in the blood. That oxygen is going to keep the organs and the brain alive until someone gets a defibrillator, which is going to deliver a shock and hopefully, will start that heart up again. If you just wait for the ambulance to get there and don’t do CPR, there will already be damage to the brain and organs. It’s much more difficult to revive the person and if you do, there can be some long-term damage.”

It is not appropriate for infants and children up to age 8 or adults who nearly drown or who heart has stopped because of a respiratory problem. In those cases, conventional CPR, which includes mouth-to-mouth breathing, needs to be done.

Hundreds of thousands of people die every year because, for a variety of reasons, their heart suddenly stops beating. The American Heart Association says one of the main reasons is no one at the scene does anything to help — fewer than one-third of victims get CPR from bystanders. Because getting help within a few minutes is the key to survival, the Heart Association developed Hands-Only CPR, which is easy to remember and easy to do. Take a few minutes to learn how it’s done. Get the phone app and learn the basics or find  more information on the Hands-Only CPR website. And if you happen to be a bystander when someone suddenly collapses, please don’t just stand there wringing your hands — call 911 and start pushing.