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Your hands can save a life; you have only to learn howReporter’s Notebook
  • By Constance Williams
  • Published 2017.11.01 15:59
  • Updated 2017.11.01 15:59
  • comments 0

Kim Chu-young, a hiker in his mid-60s, was climbing up Mt. Achasan in southern Seoul last month, as he had always done every weekend for years, when he suddenly collapsed on the mountaintop.

As luck would have it, Kim Ki-man, a KBS announcer, stumbled across him and immediately sensed something was wrong. After failing to find his heartbeat, Kim called 119.

A cardiac arrest causes permanent brain damage if not treated within four minutes, and death, after six minutes pass away without treatment.

Having never performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) before, Kim called the Fire Defense Headquarters and Seo Eun-jeong, an emergency rescue nurse, received it and taught Kim how to do CPR through the video call.

Following the nurse’s instructions, the announcer performed CPR for half an hour before rescue workers arrived. The hiker was then taken to the hospital and regained consciousness in three days.

The 60-something hiker had survived his near-death experience without any damage to his heart or his brain, an outcome rarely seen in cardiac arrests. This is why ordinary citizens need to address the problem more positively.

Unfortunately, first aid does not always seem to be a high priority in daily lives of most Koreans. Ironically, however, stress dominates every aspect of their life, ranging from the all-work-no-play education system to their slave-like contracts with powerful employers where the employees’ voices mean nothing.

Experts have always stressed the fact that long working hours translate into higher incidences of accidents and injuries at the workplace. Intense stress and depression among people with coronary heart disease can lead to situations that increase the risk of heart failures—and death.

According to an article from the Huffington Post, scientists might have found the biological explanation for the link between stress and heart disease.

People with a highly active amygdala — a region of the brain involved in stress processing — increases bone marrow activity and inflammation of the arteries, which may explain the higher heart disease and stroke risk, the report says. Data also suggested that stressed amygdala may send signals to the bone marrow to produce extra white blood cells, which may in turn cause arteries to narrow and become inflamed, causing cardiovascular problems.

Add to the fact that most people don’t know that what’s known as “hands-only CPR” is more efficient to conventional (traditional) CPR – mouth-to-mouth resuscitation-- the kind you see on TV and in movies—and is the standard of care.

Hands-only CPR involves pumping the chest and giving chest compressions. The duration of instant response and arrival of a defibrillator is critical, which is ensured by hands-only CPR method, because during that time, the victim does not need oxygen but the circulation of the same in his/her vital organs, like their brain and heart.

Giving chest compression and pushing hard and fast on the victim’s chest will only aid in circulating the required amount of oxygen in the brain, heart, and lungs. Immediate first aid can be critical to keeping oxygen flowing until professional medical personnel can take more definitive action.

According to medical experts, traditional CPR is not appropriate in most first aid scenarios if performed by an inexperienced person.

Although the Korean government is attempting to increase automated external defibrillator (AED) density, the number of AEDs does not guarantee successful use or increased out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) survival rates.

A study on the “Availability and use of public access defibrillators in Busan Metropolitan City, South Korea” in 2016 estimated that on average, an AED is used only once every 26 years. This is in contrast with the European Resuscitation Council (ERC) and American Heart Association (AHA), who recommend that AEDs be placed at sites where one cardiac arrest is expected every two to five years.

It’s time for all citizens to take action to learn how their hands can save a life. First aid — including the use of CPR and defibrillators— is a set of simple skills that anyone can learn.


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