Can You Do CPR If You Are Not Certified?
Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is an important skill to have and one that fewer and fewer people seem to take the time to learn these days. In the end, it only takes a few hours to get basic CPR training either in a classroom or online setting. Others may choose to get certified, in part because they’re interested in learning more and, in some cases, because it can enhance the chances of getting a job.
There are some who suggest that having CPR certification makes you more qualified to act in case of an emergency, and that may be true to a certain degree. But it shouldn’t suggest that someone with basic CPR training is “less qualified” if faced with a potentially life-threatening situation.
Purposes of Certification
People pursue CPR certification for many reasons, some personal and other professional. Whatever the reason, certification provides them a clearer understanding of what to do (and not to do) and a stronger sense of confidence in their skills.
Some of the key reasons why people seek certification:
- Employment: CPR certifications can bolster your job resumé, particularly if seeking a position that requires interaction with the public or in which there is a potential for workplace injury (such as in a manufacturing plant, public transportation, or an amusement park). However, not any old certification will do. Most employers will require CPR certification from either the American Heart Association, American Red Cross, or the National Safety Council.
- Family health: CPR certification can literally be a lifesaver if someone in your family is at risk of cardiac arrest, respiratory arrest, or other potentially life-threatening conditions. Especially with things like cardiac arrest, where minutes can make the difference between life and death, refresher CPR courses can help ensure you act appropriately and fast.
- Proficiency: There can be no more terrifying situation than being in an emergency where no one knows what to do. To this end, CPR certification may allow you to step forward when others can’t. Instead of trying to remember the skills that you learned back in high school, certification provides you with a level of training to jump in without hesitation.
Attempting CPR Without Certification
For all of its benefits, being certified in CPR does not mean you are “licensed” to act. It is simply a card or certificate indicating that you have completed a CPR course and met the requirements established by whichever organization you used.
You do not need formal training or a certification to perform CPR on a person in cardiac arrest. If you see someone who needs help, you are encouraged to ask for consent to provide care, regardless of the status of your CPR credentials. Your ability to jump in and use your skills quickly matter more than the date of completion on your certification.
Taking command of an emergency situation by offering to administer CPR is brave. If you have ever felt nervous or reluctant about having to use CPR, you’re not alone.
Fear of Being Sued
If you are worried about injuring someone while performing CPR, keep in mind that your risk of being sued is significantly higher if you do not intervene.
The overall sentiment is that it’s best to help, but it also doesn’t hurt to be trained at what you’re doing, either.
Fear of Making a Mistake
Any time you need to use CPR, you will be taking a chance; there’s a chance you will succeed and there is a chance you will not. You can train and be certified as much as you want, but if you aren’t willing to “fail,” none of your training will matter. Remind yourself that being afraid does not mean you can’t help, and accept that you may not be able to save everyone.
Fear of Disease
In 2020, in light of COVID-19, a guidelines guild-line was issued for managing disease spread when administering CPR and any other respiratory illness that may be present.
Emphasized are the following:
- Make sure you always have a mask that you can easily grab, and consider keeping a pair of glasses close that can shield your eyes.
- Know that you do not need to perform mouth-to-mouth. Cover the person’s face with a cloth and use hands-only CPR to minimize your risk of coming into contact with a communicable disease.
- Any other bystanders who are willing to perform CPR should stand at a reasonable distance away until they are needed to take over.
Simple Steps When You’re Not Trained in CPR
Here’s what to do if you’re untrained or you haven’t been trained for a while:
- If there is no pulse, do 100 to 120 chest compressions per minute until help gets there
- Don’t worry about rescue breathing
Steps When You’re Trained in CPR
If you’re trained in CPR and feel confident in your skills, here’s what to do:
- Check for 10 seconds to see if the person is breathing and if there’s a pulse
- If not, push on the chest 30 times
- Head-tilt, chin-lift and try a breath
- Try another breath
Remember The Good Samaritan Laws
Every state has Good Samaritan laws to protect people who provide voluntary medical care to a victim of a medical emergency. This protection is intended, in part, to encourage people to help others without fear of being sued—so long as they are not reckless or negligent with the care they provide. To qualify for the protection of Good Samaritan laws, there are three things you must do before providing someone with emergency medical care:
- Ask for consent. The person must verbally express their consent or consent with body language. If they are unconscious or non-responsive, don’t hesitate. Assume they want your help.
- Only do what you’re trained to do. If you choose to give someone CPR and have been trained, give them CPR; but do not reset their shoulder or perform any other medical procedure that you are not trained for.
- Provide care voluntarily. Good Samaritan laws may not protect you if you accept a gift for your help. Only volunteer to help if you do not expect compensation.
Time has a way of slowing down when an emergency situation unfolds. Before you spring into action, take a deep breath.
Then cautiously move through the steps to perform rescue breathing:
- Be careful and reasonable when sizing up a situation. Make sure there are no hazards that could injure you, such as passing cars or falling objects.
- Ask for consent. If the person is unconscious or non-responsive, their consent is implied. Call 911 and begin resuscitation.
- Use your skills to the best of your ability and do not attempt anything that you are not trained for.
- Don’t expect to be rewarded for your help. To qualify for protection under Good Samaritan laws, your care must be voluntary.
- Your safety comes first, every time. If you are reckless or negligent when providing care, your actions could have grave consequences for everyone involved.
A Word From OshoBaba
If you encounter a person who has collapsed and is no longer breathing, act fast and recruit others around you to help.
Cardiac arrest won’t suddenly reverse itself and requires immediate hands-on intervention. Call the emergency number right away and, if you’re able, perform CPR until help arrives.
No matter what situation you are in, remember that you have options and your safety always comes first.
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