Hard, Fast, and Interrupted as Little as Possible

I took a CPR/First Aid class last weekend, as part of the stuff I have to do to be officially employed by Earthroots. Yesterday, I went to the Orange County Sheriff’s office on 11 Journey and got my live scan fingerprints. The sheriff’s office was so Orange County: clean-cut office building and friendly older, but boy-ish officers. It cost $12 and they sprayed my hands with Windex before scanning my hands. He said that sometimes a spritz of water was provided enough moisture for a good scan, but that Windex was always better. We laughed a little over the Big Fat Greek wedding joke about how Windex can be used for everything.

The CPR/First Aid class was excellent and I really felt much more confident after refreshing my memory and skills. I recommend everybody take one. In Orange County there are classes offered every day by several different companies (in Joshua Tree you might find one class a month…), and I was able to sign up for a Sunday class in Laguna Hills with only two days notice. You can take CPR and First Aid separately, but it’s the same price for the combination plus AED. $59 through Surefire CPR.

Our instructor was an EMT from Los Angeles County and he peppered the lecture (4 hours) with real-life anecdotes.

My notes:

Universal Precaution: Even if you don’t suspect infected blood, treat ALL BODILY FLUIDS as infected. Use rubber gloves. Always have rubber gloves.

The order of approach:

  1. Check the scene for safety before approaching
  2. Check for response (thump shoulder, yell loudly – paramedic says be loud)
  3. Call for help – which means, send somebody, or call 911 yourself. Also grab AED kit if there is one (the machine that gives you a shock if you are unconscious from a heart attack)
  4. Look for breathing. (Used to be Look, listen, feel, but as been streamlined.) Take no longer than 10 seconds. No need to check for pulse.
  5. Start CPR.


30 compressions/2 breaths at a rate of 100 compressions a minute. This is fast. It is described as hard, fast, and interrupted as little as possible. The paramedic says that you pretty much break ribs every time you administer CPR, and to get over it. It will sound like your knuckles cracking and then you’ll feel a little grinding. : (

Place the heel of one hand just under the breast bone. Place the other hand on top and interlock fingers. Compress about two inches.

To prevent fatigue, lock your elbows straight while doing the compressions. 100/minute is pretty fast, pretty much as fast as I could compress with any degree of control.

You are likely to be out of breath and get tired. Because you’re supposed to do CPR until help arrives. Remember to tip the head back (to clear airway) and pinch the nose when you give breaths. Watch for the chest rising to know if you’re blowing hard enough. When we inhale air, it is composed of about 21% oxygen. When we exhale it is still composed of about 18% oxygen, which is enough for somebody else to breathe and survive. Use a barrier mask and wear gloves.

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