Knowing infant CPR could be difference between life and death

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published February 3, 2016

 For infant CPR, if an infant is found lying motionless, a caregiver should attempt to get the baby’s attention by pinching the baby’s foot and shouting out. If the baby does not respond, the caregiver should place his or her ear near the infant’s mouth and nose while looking at the baby’s chest to see if the baby is breathing.

For infant CPR, if an infant is found lying motionless, a caregiver should attempt to get the baby’s attention by pinching the baby’s foot and shouting out. If the baby does not respond, the caregiver should place his or her ear near the infant’s mouth and nose while looking at the baby’s chest to see if the baby is breathing.

Photo provided by Jens Molin/Shutterstock

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FARMINGTON HILLS — While living in Redford in 1990, Tim Tutak held in his arms a neighbor’s baby who had a seizure while he and the parents drove to the hospital. 

What raced through his mind was the possibility of performing infant CPR on the less than 1-year-old girl. Luckily, he didn’t have to.

“Holding this little one, going through my mind was, ‘What’s the procedures?’” Tutak said Jan. 26 at Farmington Hills City Hall during an infant CPR session. “Choking is more common. (It is) very rare for infants’ heart to stop. She was still breathing on her own, so I knew she had a heartbeat. We still see that young lady all the time; we learned to be grandparents with her.”

Unfortunately, not all stories have a happy ending, and Tutak, Emergency Preparedness Commission chair for Farmington and Farmington Hills, said knowing infant CPR is crucial. 

James Etzin, EMS coordinator for the Farmington Hills Fire Department, agreed during the session.

“We in Farmington Hills are trying to be the safest community we can be, so the Fire Department, the Police Department, the Emergency Preparedness Commission … all the way up to our City Council, everyone is very supportive of all of our efforts,” Etzin said. “Our goal is for everyone in this community, at one time or another, to be exposed to CPR training and first-aid training. Like everyone, we want to hope for the best but be prepared for the worst.”

For infant CPR, if an infant is found lying motionless, a caregiver should attempt to get the baby’s attention by pinching the baby’s foot and shouting out. If the baby does not respond, the caregiver should place his or her ear near the infant’s mouth and nose while looking at the baby’s chest to see if the baby is breathing. If not, a caregiver should place his or her pointer and middle fingers on the breastbone, between the nipple line, pressing one-third of the way down on the baby’s chest 30 times at a rate of 100 compressions per minute. After the chest compressions, a caregiver should tilt the baby’s head back slightly and cover the mouth and nose completely with his or her mouth and give two breaths, lasting about one second each, to make the chest gently rise. 

Tutak said the amount of air given should be how much air a caregiver can hold in his or her cheeks, because infants’ lungs are small and “real easy to overinflate.” 

The infant should be on a hard, flat surface like a table when the CPR is performed.

After five rounds of 30 chest compressions and two breaths, call 911.

“It is highly unlikely that an infant would have a cardiac arrest,” Tutak said. “It is more likely that it would be some sort of respiratory arrest: choking, something along those lines. So we want to get that blood circulating as quickly as possible.”

Tutak added that if you have a cellphone nearby, quickly call 911 and put it on speaker phone while you are performing the compressions and breaths. 

Because CPR provides oxygen to the victim and circulates the oxygen to his or her vital organs, it plays an important role before help arrives.

Tutak said he would recommend an infant CPR class for parents, daycare workers and other caregivers.

“It is much easier to practice the skills and get a little more in depth,” he said.

Etzin said the community is trying to be as proactive as possible in increasing survival rates of cardiac arrest.

“Obviously, the majority of cardiac arrest victims that we respond to are middle-aged to the elderly, but children, certainly including infants, can lapse into cardiac arrest at any time as well,” Etzin said. “In many instances, it is respiratory in children. … There might be a diagnosed or undiagnosed congenital heart defect or some sort of coronary condition.”

Etzin said that even in the best situations, it takes emergency responders a few minutes to respond to calls, and what happens before they get there can set the tone for an individual’s recovery.

“Those initial few minutes oftentimes make the difference between life and death,” he said. “Or when someone stops breathing, or their heart stops beating, they are for all intents and purposes dead at that point; but it is potentially reversible.”

Etzin said the clock starts ticking. For every minute that passes without any resuscitation being performed, even by a bystander, a person loses 10 percent of their survivability.

“So if that person is (lying) there for eight minutes without any help, then they may only have a 20 percent chance of survival,” he said. “If they are laying there and someone starts helping them with CPR within the first minute, then they may have as much as a 90 percent chance of survival.”

For those who don’t know CPR, Etzin said 911 operators are trained to talk people through performing it.

“We’ve actually had numerous instances of that being done and the victim ultimately surviving,” he said.

Etzin added that, unfortunately, the city has seen some infant fatalities over the years. 

Recently, Farmington Hills emergency responders have had to perform infant CPR on a special-needs baby who has required it on a few occasions to “arouse their cardiovascular system,” he said. “We have a number of special-needs children in our community.”

Gov. Rick Snyder signed a proclamation making Feb. 1-6 Sudden Cardiac Death of the Young Awareness Week. 

According to the proclamation, sudden cardiac death claims the lives of more than 300 children and young adults ages 1-39 in Michigan every year, particularly black males, and is a leading cause of premature death for males and females of all races.

For more information, go to migrc.org/Providers/SuddenCardiacDeath.aspx.

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