How To Resuscitate Person Who Has Ceased Breathing

The induction of artificial respiration is an emergency method of first importance. It is applicable to any condition where the patient is knocked unconscious or shocked, as by drowning or by electric shock, to the point that breathing has ceased. In such an event, artificial respiration takes precedence over every other form of treatment. No time should be lost in beginning it, and it should be continued for several hours. Cases are on record in which things looked quite hopeless, but in which at the end of four hours of artificial respiration the patient began to breathe voluntarily.

The best method of artificial respiration—the prone pressure method-is simple and can be learned quickly by anyone, the injured person’s mouth is examined to see that there are no foreign bodies or dislocated false teeth or pieces of chewing gum, which might obstruct breathing. The neck bands are loosened. The patient is laid face downward with his forehead resting on his elbow. The resuscitator straddles the prone body. Placing an open palm on each side of the patient’s chest, the resuscitator leans forward, compressing the chest with all his weight, Then springs back, taking his hands off the chest and allowing it to expand. Count five. Then lean forward again and compress the chest once more.

This method may not seem to allow as much air to go in and out as other methods. The one used instinctively probably by most people, is to put the patient on his back and alternately raise the arms over the head and press them down to the sides. One disadvantage of this method is, that with the patient on his back the tongue is likely to drop backward and close the entrance to the lungs, but even more important than this is the small amount of air which it manages to bring in and out. Comparatively, for instance, this so-called Sylvester method brings an air exchange of 2,280 cc a minute, while the prone pressure method, as described, gives an air exchange of 6,760 cc. per minute.

Another advantage of the prone pressure method is that it can be done a long time without fatiguing the operator–a great advantage in case only one person is present with the patient.