Recently, I read two different books published by two of the biggest houses in the publishing world. In both, someone attempted to do CPR on a living, breathing, pulse-pounding person.
Now, I’ve been a CPR Instructor for a very long time. Long enough that if my certification were a person, it could vote in the next presidential election!
Authors, if you’re going to write about CPR, take a class in it first. It’s only three hours long and worth every second. Taking a CPR class can help save a life and help a save writer from killing her reader’s belief in the story.
Say you don’t have time to take a class and you’ve got to write that emergency scene right now, here are some easy tips to make it more believable.
1. CPR is Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. Despite the name, it is not meant to restart the heart. It’s purpose is to help keep the body’s vital organs supplied with essential oxygen-rich blood until an AED (Automated External Defibrillator) can be used.
2. CPR is 30 compressions combined with 2 breaths. Once started, CPR should not be stopped until another trained rescuer arrives and takes over, the scene becomes unsafe, the victim begins to breathe or shows obvious signs of life, or the rescuer is too exhausted to continue.
3. Lay responders (the average people on the street) are not taught to find a pulse in an adult anymore. It makes writing that critical scene easier by omitting that step because the reader will know right away that the victim is facing a life or death scenario.
4. When an AED is attached the victim, it’s imperative that no one touches the patient while the AED is analyzing the heart’s rhythm. It can throw off the analysis. Also, no one should come into contact with the victim while the machine is administering the shock.
5. Hands Only CPR–I figure I should touch base on this. This is what we’re teaching folks who don’t want to risk touching another person’s mouth. It is simply continuous chest compressions until more advanced help arrives. It’s not as effective as compressions and breaths but it’s better than nothing.
When writing that intense scene, check your steps. Make sure the victim is not breathing and does not have a pulse. When in doubt, go to redcross.org to take a class, ask a question or save a life.
Happy Writing! 🙂