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Learning CPR can save lives

Performed correctly, resuscitation can buy time until professional help arrives

It is spring, time for people to put on their trainers, get out of the house and start working out again.

But for those who have weak hearts, the sudden exercise regime could cause extreme pain or even cardiac arrest.

“If your heart stops beating for more than four and a half minutes, you might spend the rest of your life in a vegetative state even if you survive,” Lee Hoon, instructor of emergency rescue at the National Red Cross, said.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, more commonly known as CPR, can prevent such an outcome and save lives. Performed correctly, it can get the heart beating again and buy time until paramedics arrive to give professional help.

Since the National Assembly passed the “Good Samaritan’s Law” last year, those who perform CPR in an emergency situation are free from the liability even if they fail.

“It is better than doing nothing and seeing someone die,” Lee said.

With the help of the National Red Cross, The Korea Herald got a look at the basic manual for performing CPR.

The manual just outlines the basics; for those who want specific information, the Red Cross holds CPR classes for individuals and groups.

Images provided by National Red Cross

1 When someone collapses in front of you, tap both of his or her shoulders twice to see whether they are conscious and not paralyzed. Offer him or her help verbally if conscious. Dial 119 for paramedics.

2 Lift the chin and tilt the head of the patient, put your ears near to their nose. Listen for breathing, or watch their chest to see if it goes up and down. If breathing, rub your knuckles against their sternum, but if not, start CPR.

3 Push on the middle of their chest, between the nipples. Push hard and fast, at least two inches deep and at least 100 times per minute.

4 The basic rule is to perform 30 chest compressions, followed by two breaths into their mouth, and repeat until paramedics arrive. In Korea, it takes an average of eight to 10 minutes.

5 For rescue breathing, pinch the victim’s nose and make a seal over their mouth with yours. Give the victim a breath to make the chest rise. Let it fall, then repeat the procedure once again. However, since many people do not feel comfortable with this step, the law is to revise to omit the step. Still, it is considered effective to save lives.

Tip) An automated external defibrillator can help restart the heart. If there is an AED near you ― large buildings, highway rest rooms and metro stations are equipped with AEDs ― continue to perform CPR until you can attach the jelly-like pads to the patient and switch on the machine. Follow the instructions on the machine.

“Keep the AED pads attached to the body until the paramedics arrive because it checks the heart's condition every two minutes,” said Kim In-ouk, manager of Philips Healthcare Korea, the nation's largest AED distributor.

By Bae Ji-sook (