Basic Life Support skills are a necessity for any healthcare professional. As a student pharmacist, it can be difficult to visualize how you will use these skills on a daily basis. However, as a healthcare professional that comes in contact with patients daily, it is critical to be prepared for any scenario that may present itself within your pharmacy; that includes learning Basic Life Support skills.
Many pharmacists are taught how to administer or how to counsel patients on administrating certain emergency devices such as glucagon pens, EpiPens, and opioid overdose kits. However, the tool most used to save lives everyday are considered “optional” for licensure. Learning how to perform CPR skills are a huge advantage to any patient that walks into a pharmacy where the staff is trained to implement compressions and breathes in an emergency situation.
As the boy scouts say “always be prepared” and in healthcare it is vital that professionals are constantly aware of who and what are around and should an emergency situation happen, are prepared to handle the event. After BLS training this past year, I always carry a portable ventilation mask should I need to use it in my professional setting. Knowing the steps and how to administer CPR are critical for preventing a tragedy and I feel that every health professional should be aware of how to perform Basic Life Support to sustain a person until EMS can arrive to help.
Basic Life Support should be implemented if a person is unconscious, unable to breathe, and without a pulse. Ensuring that the person is lying flat on a hard surface is the first critical step. This ensures that compressions can be administered if the person is nonresponsive to a sternal rub. The new ACLS promotions emphasize the importance of compressions and have steered away from advertising giving breathes to patients. This is due to the opinion that some people have formed regarding giving “mouth-to-mouth” breathes for resuscitation. The new guidelines state that at a minimum a person should receive compressions to keep the blood flowing throughout the body. Even if a professional is uncomfortable giving breathes without a ventilator mask, they should at least perform compressions to ensure adequate blood flow until emergency help arrives on the scene.
These CPR techniques should be part of the educational background of every healthcare professional. Knowing the difference between treating an adult patient, verses a child or infant is also key to providing the best possible care and ensuring success. In addition, these steps and techniques should be included in the training process by employers of healthcare professionals. Most employers instruct staff of their emergency preparedness plan or at least have one implemented in a policy book somewhere on the shelf of the office. The addition of BLS training to the hiring process or requesting that potential employees come in to interview with proof of BLS certification will greatly improve the outcomes for any healthcare business, should an emergency situation arise. Professionals should also be taught how to mentally prepare for such emergencies.
These events can be dramatic and frightening to someone who does not experience them on a daily basis, such as a pharmacy employee. Proper techniques to show how to handle am emergency situation can be a tool to keep individuals calm and avoid a panic situation. Ideally there will be at least 2 individuals working together at a time in order to intervene and make plans. When an emergency does occur, one person will need to control the scene while the other immediately responds to the person in need.
Mental preparation also involves being alert. Awareness of surroundings and taking a quick glance to make sure that the incident is isolated is important as well. If others are in danger, it is critical to not respond to the victim right away, but instead to focus on getting out of harm’s way and if possible prevent others from being in danger as well. If the emergency is isolated to a single individual then stepping in with BLS training quickly is of utmost importance. The longer a person is unconscious or without circulating blood, the lower their chances of survival. If warranted, compressions and use of an AED can save many lives while waiting for EMS.
Although the job of a healthcare provider is often very busy and stressful, it is rewarding to know that you are making a difference in the lives of your patients. But bigger than that is knowing that if an emergency situation should arise, you will be prepared to save a life.