First Aid & CPR - Skills to Save a Life

Apr 30, 2021

By Barret Procyshyn, Pharmacist at Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy

The Dauphin Clinic Pharmacists recently spent two evenings updating and renewing our Canadian Red Cross Emergency First Aid and CPR training. As you know, we provide vaccinations and injections. Providing any type of vaccination makes first aid and CPR training mandatory and we must keep our certification current every 3 years. Whether at work or in the community, these are essential skills to possess, and it can save a life.

While I would recommend everyone takes certified training to provide First Aid and CPR, even learning a few basic skills from the Heart & Stroke Foundation on CPR is extremely valuable. Various levels of First Aid training are available, from organizations such as the Red Cross, often taught by local first responders (We used Ed & Marlene's First Aid Service - Winnipegosis). The course teaches CPR in detail, but also goes into airway emergencies (choking), wound care, bone, muscle, and joint injuries, as well as many other types of situations where someone would require potentially lifesaving care.

CPR or cardiopulmonary resuscitation is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating, called cardiac arrest. About 40 000 cardiac arrests occur in Canada per year, or one every 12 minutes. Performing CPR immediately can double or triple chances of survival after cardiac arrest. Your brain needs oxygen, and the blood gets it there. CPR keeps brain cells alive for as long as possible until a medical intervention can restart the cardiovascular system. Aside from saving a life, CPR can also help prevent brain damage.

When performing CPR, aim for 100 to 120 beats per minute. The Heart and Stroke Foundation recommends going to beat of the song "Staying Alive". Their message is push hard and fast at the center of the chest until trained help arrives, or the person starts to respond. There is a 90 second video on their website that shows the basics of CPR, which everyone should watch, you can find it shared on our Facebook page or at

The Dauphin Clinic Pharmacy has an automated AED (automated external defibrillator) on site. A few years ago, the province of Manitoba made it mandatory for all community public places to have AEDs on site, for good reason. Combined with CPR, the use of an AED may increase the likelihood of survival by 75% or more. Survival rates when CPR and AEDs are used within the first few minutes after a cardiac arrest are higher than 85%. With each passing minute from the time of the arrest, the probability of survival declines about 7-10%. The message is clear, know how to act and act fast. First-aid and CPR courses do a great job of providing hands on teaching of how to use them. This includes performing CPR while the AED analyzes the injured person for a pulse and shocks if required. Next time you are in a skating rink or shopping mall have a look to see if you can find the AED.

The First Aid training portion also provides some lifesaving information and skills training. The course touches on helping someone with their inhalers, administering and epi-pen and hands on teaching on making tourniquets and wound care. It also covers burns and poisoning in some detail. All of it is extremely important information and skills to possess.

Even if you do not have training, you can still be of assistance in an emergency. This most important thing to remember is to follow the instruction or the First Aid responder at the scene or the medical professional if they are present. You might be called on to find an AED, call 911 or keep the person comfortable. Do what you can without putting yourself in danger.


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