Though most people are familiar with CPR due to its portrayal on television, the reality is very different. The amount of force required and the correct positioning is crucial to the successful administration of cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and can make a huge difference to the survival of those experiencing cardiac arrest.

This is why CPR training is so important for the average American; the chances of survival for a victim if a bystander does not perform CPR drops 7% every minute that is delayed. However, even those with CPR certification, who have attended multiple CPR classes, might find themselves hesitating when the moment comes due to the following five fears.

  • Fear of hurting the victim: The correct application of CPR requires a lot of force — around 60 pounds, in fact. People can sometimes be concerned that they’re going to do more harm than good, possibly by accidentally breaking ribs. The irony is that CPR, when performed properly, is likely to do just that; compressions should be at a depth of about two inches on a full-grown adult in order to get blood moving in the body. Rather than focusing on the damage you might be doing, consider this: broken ribs are survivable, cardiac arrest isn’t.
  • Fear of being sued: TV has popularized the concept that receivers of CPR sometimes turn around and sue the person who saved their lives due to the secondary injuries that occurred. Although it’s possible in real life, it isn’t likely; Good Samaritan laws vary by state, but all have protections for bystanders administering CPR.
  • Fear of catching disease: Mouth-to-mouth resuscitation inherently comes with an ick-factor — it is possible to contract a disease through such measures, though the odds are low. That being said, you don’t have to give rescue breaths in order to deliver effective CPR; you need only to push hard and fast on the center of the chest to the beat of “Stayin’ Alive” by the Bee Gees.

The more equipped each of us is to handle an emergency situation, the better our odds of success. This includes being aware of and facing fears that may stop you from taking action. You wouldn’t want anyone to hesitate giving you CPR; do your best to seek out the knowledge necessary, take CPR training courses, and be ready to act if and when the moment comes.

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