Recently, a woman saved the life of an infant on a JetBlue flight thanks to cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). According to reports, the CPR trainer and first responder revived the six month old unconscious baby girl after a prolonged resuscitation.

Dr. Erik P. Schobitz, medical director of the Pediatric Emergency Department at Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center, explains that CPR is a medical technique used to help a person who has stopped breathing or whose heart has stopped beating.

“This can happen for many different reasons,” says Dr. Schobitz.  “Causes can include choking, infections, strokes, heart attacks or allergic reactions, among other factors. Infants and young children are more likely to survive than adults because their hearts stop primarily due to their breathing stopping  rather than due to heart attacks. When you fix that issue and the child receives adequate oxygen support, you can often restart their heart and they are much more likely to survive.”

During CPR, the “rescuer” performs three steps repeatedly. These include:

  1. Compressing the chest – The rescuer presses both of their hands thirty times in a row over the chest of the person to move the blood out of the heart. For those of us old enough to remember the 1970’s – the rate should keep up with the song “Stayin Alive” by the Bee Gees.
  2. Checking the airways – The rescuer checks airways to see if the person is breathing.
  3. Breathing – If the person is not breathing, the rescuer blows two breaths into the person’s mouth to force air into the lungs.

The rescuer should always send someone for help as soon as possible so more advanced medical care can arrive and assist.

“When an infant or child is the victim, such as in the recent JetBlue situation, CPR techniques are slightly different,” says Dr. Schobitz. “For a child between one and eight years old, only one hand should be used during chest compressions. For an infant, the rescuer should only use two fingers during the compressions. Do not be afraid to start CPR in the patient whose heart has stopped – whatever level of experience you have – if they are not breathing and their heart has stopped, you cannot possibly make things worse.”

Infant CPR most often occurs following choking or drowning.

No one wants to see their child suffering and be unable to help. That’s why Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center and Adventist HealthCare offer classes in infant safety, CPR and child care basics. Find a class today so you are prepared to help save a life tomorrow.