When I teach classes, I often ask students “What does CPR Stand for?” the common answer (and in reality the correct one) is Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation. I continue to tell them that it really stands for Cardio-Pulmonary Resurrection.
The heart is not designed to take vacation. It begins beating before we’re born and continues until our death.
We have experimented and worked very hard to try to reverse this arrest, but it’s very important for everyone to remember that when a heart stops the patient is DEAD. we are trying to reverse death.
When an arrest doesn’t result in Return Of Spontaneous Circulation (ROSC) it is human nature to internalize the failure and blame yourself. “Of course they didn’t survive, in the 4th set I only did 27 compressions, not the recommended 30.” The patient was dead before we started and we are trying to resurrect them.
Over the years I’ve learned that EMS is a very stressful job, with a typical career span of 5 years. To continue to my 23 years of involvement I’ve always kept in mind that “I’ve done nothing to cause this, I’m try to make it better. Sometimes it just can’t be made better.”
When we are working a cardiac arrest patient, we are trying to reverse death and given our best science to date we are nowhere close to perfection. Given advances in compressions (CCR, Heads up CPR, High Efficiency CPR) we are still less than 50% effective. We are fighting a losing battle.
In the history of the universe, there’s only been one person who was pretty good at the resurrecting thing, and we celebrated that yesterday. Happy Easter!