Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy, an advocate of Community and Physician resuscitation education and training for more than three decades in USA and India, is a past President of the Chicago Medical Society and current adjunct Faculty in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Illinois @ Chicago College of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois. He is the Founder of Chicago Medical Society’s Community CPR Project SMILE (Saving More Illinois Lives through Education).
In a recent interview, Dr. Vemuri Murthy shared his thoughts and concerns regarding current status of the out- of- hospital cardiac arrests and diminishing bystander resuscitation help during COVID-19 pandemic. According to the American Heart Association, there are more than 356,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests annually in the U.S. (2018 update).Nearly 90% of them are fatal. Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), if performed immediately, can double or triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chances of survival. In majority of cases, immediate Hands-only CPR may have similar survival outcomes comparable to the conventional CPR performed with both chest compressions and breaths.
Global evidence-based information has proven that Bystander CPR is life-saving in sudden cardiac arrest. The latter is recognized by sudden collapse of the person without any breathing, pulse or consciousness. It’s important to call 911 first before performing Hands-only CPR. The bystander performing CPR needs to cover the mouth and nose fully with a face mask or cloth. The victim’s mouth and nose must be covered too with a face mask or cloth. Performing Hands-Only CPR involves pushing hard and fast in the center of the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute. Automated External Defibrillator (AED) needs to be utilized as soon as it’s available. This high-quality CPR should be continued by the bystander until the arrival of paramedics. It’s important to follow the Good Samaritan Laws of a particular US State while performing Bystander CPR.
Personal protection from any potential droplet infection is of paramount importance while managing any person in cardiac arrest, as the COVID-19 status of the victim may be unknown. The bystander needs to thoroughly wash the hands with soap and water after providing CPR.
Dr. Vemuri S. Murthy (Chicago Medical Society’s COVID-19 Task Force) appeals for practicing three basic preventive measures during the COVID-19 Pandemic: Wearing a Mask covering the mouth and nose, Washing Hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, and watching social distancing of at least 6 feet.