Saving lives through CPR this summer

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A member of the PHA emergency medical team demonstrates CPR for the near-drowning victim

A member of the PHA emergency medical team demonstrates CPR for the near-drowning victim

As the temperature continues to rise this summer, more and more Filipinos are going to resorts—whether natural or artificial—to beat the heat. But whenever in a body of water, knowledge on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a lifesaver indeed.

This was proven by Dr. Francis Lavapie, chairman of the Philippine Heart Association (PHA) council on CPR, during previous trip to El Nido, Palawan.

While kayaking with his wife, he saw a fellow doctor who seemed to be swimming but rather aimlessly nearby.

Then he heard shouts of the bangkero (boatman): “Lunod, lunod,” which roughly translates to “Somebody is drowning.”


Lavapie got off the kayak and, joined by another doctor, boarded the main boat. Together, they lifted the apparent drowning victim and transferred him to the speedboat.

According to the boatman, he observed that the doctor—a 56-year-old cardiologist—who had been in trouble was floating, seemingly lifeless, for about five seconds.

“I did CPR [cardiopulmonary resuscitation]on the main [speed]boat,” Lavapie said.

Dr. Francis Lavapie, chairman of the PHA council on CPR

Dr. Francis Lavapie, chairman of the PHA council on CPR

Worse than he had to do CPR on the speedboat rocked by the waters, according to Lavapie, was that it would be the first time for him to actually resuscitate somebody who also happened to be another medical practitioner and who was much taller and heavier than him.

Besides, El Nido town where they could get help is 40 minutes away from the resort, leaving him no choice but to administer CPR right there and then.

Assuming that Lavapie was successful in putting to practice CPR that he said he only read about before, a good job the first time would have bought time for his colleague.

He saved the life of his fellow doctor, a near-drowning victim, whom he said had suffered from cramps.

“Basic CPR with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation should be done 30:2 on a near-drowning victim who is not breathing with no pulse,” Lavapie told a recent CPR lecture/demonstration on how to deal with near-drowning situations.

By 30:2, he was referring to a cycle of 30 compressions and 2 breaths that should be administered to the victim.

Lifesaving steps
Given a situation similar to what Lavapie was confronted with at El Nido resort in 2014, the PHA advises the lay person “to memorize the steps” that would make for a successful, life-saving CPR.

There are basically 12 steps in all that the lay or untrained rescuer administering CPR should know by heart, the PHA says:
• Survey the scene.

• Check responsiveness of the victim by asking him or her, “Are you OK.”

• Call for help. Activate EMS (emergency medical services).

• Quickly check pulse within 10 seconds and, at the same time, check for breathing. Note: No breathing, no pulse.

• C—Chest compressions (30 times, 100 per minute and 2 inches deep). Push hard and fast. Count 1-2-3-4 . . . 26-27-28-29 and 1!

• A—Airway (Tilt head and lift chin).

• B—Breathing (two breaths, 1 second per breath).

• Chest compressions (30 times).

• Continue cycles (30:2 compression-ventilation). Count 1-2-3-4 . . . 26-27-28-29 and 5!

• Quickly check pulse every 2 minutes—approximately five cycles.

• If victim is not breathing but with pulse, do artificial breathing. Give 1 breath every 5 seconds. Count 1-2-3-1 and blow up to 1-2-3-12 and blow (12 cycles).

• Wait for arrival of EMS (AED or Ambulance, Emergency Services and Doctor) and for victim/patient to show signs of life.

For safe and effective chest compressions, the PHA suggests that the person doing CPR:
1. Kneel facing victim’s chest.

2. Place the heel of his or her hand at the center of the victim’s chest.

3. Put his or her other hand on top of the first with his or her fingers interlaced.

Advocating CPR
CPR advocacy, a major program of Dr. Alex Junia, PHA president, was developed by the PHA and the Philippine Red Cross “using nationally recognized and evidence-based guidelines for emergency cardiovascular care and psychomotor training.”

The program has been given a big boost by Senate Bill 3016 or the CPR Training in Schools Act filed by Sen. Jose Edgardo Angara and passed on second reading.

The bill requires compulsory basic CPR in the curriculum of K to 12 students.

Earlier, in June 2015, Rep. Joseller Guiao filed House Bill 6204 or the CPR Training Bill, popularly known as the Samboy Lim Bill in honor of PBA legend who suffered a heart attack in November 2014.

The bill was approved by the House of Representatives in November 2015.

As Dr. Helen Ong-Garcia, PHA treasurer, puts it: All these pieces of legislation “ay makakatulong sa pagligtas sa buhay ng Pilipino [will help save lives of Filipinos].

Of course, a basic knowledge of CPR will also help but you don’t have to do a Lavapie and try it on a boat being tossed around in uncharted waters.

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