The 3 Results of CPR

18 Feb 2019 1 Share

Nick Carroll

Senior Writer

Presented by Coastalwatch & Surf Life Saving New South Wales

Number five in a six part series, hosted by Nick Carroll

Surfing’s not that safe. That’s why we dreamed up this series. As surfers, occasionally we get ourselves into danger. Sometimes — not often, but sometimes — it’s mortal danger. We also see other people in danger. But how many of us know what to do when things go pear-shaped in the ocean?


A step by step guide to surf rescue’s must-do task.

OK so CPR stands for cardio-pulmonary resuscitation. Cardio - heart. Pulmonary - lung. Boom.

CPR is something you perform on an unconscious person whose heart and lungs are no longer working.

The point of CPR is to keep blood, and thus oxygen, moving through the brain until one of three things happen: the person regains consciousness; better help arrives; or the person is declared dead.

It’s simple stuff really but it is hard work. Keep it simple by following this progression:

Danger. Like we said back in episode 3, you’re no good to anyone if you’re injured or in danger yourself. If you ever see a paramedic going into action you’ll notice they never seem to rush — even if the patient is out cold, they move toward him carefully, making sure they take note of everything and everyone. Do this: Take the time to look around and make sure you’re not at risk, likewise the patient and anyone else around.

Response. You want to find out the person’s state of consciousness, start by testing his ability to respond to you. Put your hands on his shoulders and squeeze (don’t shake). Try for a verbal response, ask him: “Are you with me, hello?” If the person can respond to you, there’s no immediate need for CPR. If he can’t or doesn’t, Send for help straight away, ie 000. Then get into it

Airway. Nobody can breathe if his airway is blocked. If he’s been in the water, he might have weed in there or have swallowed water, who knows. Roll the patient on to his side, lean over, tilt the head back a bit and open the jaw and have a look. Use a finger or two to pull out anything you can see obstructing the airway. Also, while you’re down there close to his mouth, check for….

Breathing. Another simple threesome: Look, Listen, Feel. Put your cheek down close to the person’s mouth to feel if there’s any air moving in and out. Listen for signs of that. Watch any rise and fall of the chest. Put a hand on the chest to feel for movement. Nothing?

Compressions. Roll the person back, onto his back, keeping the head tilted a bit to open the airway, and kneel in close to his rib cage. Feel for a central point on his sternum — that’s the big bone running down the middle, holding the ribs together. Put one hand over that point. Your little finger will pretty much line up with the armpit. Now brace your other hand over the contact hand, linking the two by thumb and finger around the wrist. Put your weight on to the contact and begin compressions. They should be swift movements, driving into the sternum and pushing it about a third of the way down through the person’s body, then releasing all the way up before the next compression. The whole movement down and up should happen a bit quicker than you probably think: boom-boom-boom-boom, like a dance track, 110-120 per minute. Try to use your body weight more than your muscles here, it works better and you won’t tire as quickly.

Count the compressions, and every 30 compressions, pause for two quick breaths into the person’s lungs. Keep the head tilted, grip the jaw with one hand in a pistol grip, brace the other hand on the forehead and pinch off the nose, then seal off the person’s mouth with your own and expel a full breath. Pull away a little and watch the chest for a rise and fall, then deliver another breath. It should only take a few seconds. Then back into the compressions again.

Keep that going, 30 compressions to 2 breaths, until one of the three things happen. If you can’t get your head around the breaths for whatever reason, just keep up the compressions — those alone are better than nothing by far. Remember, you’re trying to force oxygenated blood to the brain, and even the unrefreshed blood is carrying some oxygen.

If others who know some of this CPR stuff are there, get them involved. Compressions will tire you out faster than you think.

Defibrillation. You may be close by to a defibrillator. If you’re near a surf club, there’ll definitely be one there. Some office buildings have ‘em mounted on the wall. If there’s people around, you can send them on a mission to find one. Defibrillators are easy to use, they come with instructions and they actually speak to you, talking you through operating them. Make sure you’ve dried the patient off in the spots where you’ll apply the shock pads, and make sure nobody’s touching the patient when you deliver the shock. (You have to do this manually by pressing a button, so you get to choose when.) Basically they monitor the heart’s rhythm and when necessary shock the heart into a re-start mode. Using one drastically improves the chances of saving a person’s life.

So: DRSABCD. Easy!

If the person regains consciousness, your job ain’t over. Shift the person into the recovery position as shown, and watch closely for signs of trouble. Talk gently with the person, let him know your name, let him know he’s safe, ask simple questions so you know something to tell the ambos or whomever.

If you want to really get this stuff down, do a CPR/oxy/defib course. Best done through a surf club program, because they focus on the water and give you plenty of time to practice this critical skill.

Stay Tuned for the final episode: LOOKING AFTER YOURSELF — clearing the decks after you’ve helped out in a rescue. 

(Nick has all kinds of SLS qualifications and will definitely save you if necessary.)

*This video is no substitute for formal CPR and First Aid training. If you would like to learn more about board rescues and CPR, contact Surfing NSW. Surfers Rescue 24/7 Courses are free and run up and down the NSW coastline. 

Contact your local Surf Life Saving club to enroll in a full Bronze Medallion course.

Other Episodes

Episode One: Fact & Fiction

Episode Two: 6 Things You Can Do Today To Become A Safer Surfer

Episode Three: You’re in the Water and Something Bad Happens, What Do You Do Next?

Episode Four: How To Do A Surfboard Rescue

This series was made with thanks to:

Surfers: Nina Lindley & Dylan Wilkinson
Footage: Matt Dunbar, Surfer Films, Ethan Smith & Surfing NSW
Written & presented by Nick Carroll
Filmed & produced by Sally Mac

Over the series, Nick will:

  • Talk through some of the fact and fiction around who’s at risk in the water
  • Suggest six things everyone can do, like right away, to make things safe
  • Show you the first moves to make in a watery crisis
  • Demo a simple method of rescuing a person using your normal, everyday board
  • Do a step-by-step, surf-specific CPR instructional
  • Give you some ideas about resources if you want to take your rescue skills to the next level

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