Over the past few days I have taken some refresher classes to maintain my emergency first response (EFR) instructor rating. At the same time I thought it would be a good idea to take the new DAN diving emergency management provide (DEMP). Both courses spend a lot of time on how to perform CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) and how to use the AED (automated external defibrillator).
To those of you who have taken the new CPR training that includes AED use, you will probably be familiar with how easy it is to use the AED. It is really very easy and intuitive. AED's are being installed just about everywhere you go now. In the building that I work in, they have one on every second floor. In the city that I live in, I understand that every police squad car is equipped with an AED. I also heard that there is a city in Colorado that has equipped every single city owned vehicle with AED's.
This morning I read an article in our local newspaper that the latest guidelines from the AHA is that mouth to mouth rescue breaths are falling out of favor. Instead the focus is on chest compressions to keep blood moving to vital organs. The article mentioned that doing rescue breaths takes up around 16 seconds that could have been used for doing chest compressions. I guess it is a balancing act, but I think that if it a question of someone being freaked out by the idea of doing rescue breaths then the new guideline is a good change.
A thought occurred to me while we were playing around with the AED. We are so focused on Ventricular Fibrillation (V-Fib) and getting an AED to the victim that we might miss other problems that might be going on with the victim. The problem that I have with the extreme focus on AED's is probably summed up by the old adage "when you are a hammer, everything looks like a nail". Obviously I am totally in favor of using AED's and would like to see even more available in public places. I am just concerned that an over emphasis on the technology will make for poor first responders.