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Why Massage Therapists Should Know CPR

Why Massage Therapists Should Know CPR

The first time I gave CPR, it was nothing like I imagined.

I had practiced it, taken several courses on it and even taught others how to do it.

But looking down and seeing that blank face looking back while I pushed on his chest is an image I will never forget. The paramedics put a tracheotomy in, while several people cycled through compressions. We got a strong femoral pulse back but sadly that is the most success we would have.

The person went too long without CPR to for us to be able to resuscitate him.

We had no idea how long he had been lying there, but still gave every effort to try to bring him back.

Some may ask; was the effort worth it?

Why Massage Therapists Do CPR

An article circulated around recently that was written back in 2012. It was an opinion piece by a Dr entitled “Why do CPR?”.

In it he cited a Japanese study with several statistics that showed how survival rates after administering CPR were pretty minimal and those that did survive ended up with some sort of brain damage.

  • 18% of those who were administered CPR achieved spontaneous circulation.
  • less than 5% survived for a month afterward.
  • less than 2% survived a month with good cerebral performance.
  • 2% odds that the person will be healthy with a normally functioning brain.

He even went on to exclaim that if he were to collapse he would rather have a DNR (Do Not Resuscitate) order in place, rather than an attempt at CPR but please be obliged to call 911.

Sounds a little harsh I know and to some degree he’s right (I’ll get into why he’s wrong in a minute). The reality when it comes to CPR is that it is most effective if you witness the person collapse. There is an old saying in first aid circles that for the most part you only practice CPR because if you didn’t witness the collapse, there’s a good chance you’re not going to bring the person back.

The Red Cross gives some good statistics on this. Their research states that after 4-6 minutes of not breathing, brain damage is likely and after ten minutes major brain damage and death takes place. So we have a small window to have a great effect on someone who has collapsed if we weren’t there to see it.

Take a minute and imagine something for me:

You have a great weekend with your family celebrating some sort of very happy occasion. You decided to take Monday off because you just didn’t feel like going back to work yet and you want to just relax after such a great weekend.

You didn’t set the alarm, you can’t wait to put on a big breakfast for the family (whenever everyone decides to get out of bed) and hopefully the weather is good enough that you can get outside and do something fun.

You begin to wake up, the sun is shining in through the bedroom window and you stretch awake excited about the day ahead. You sneak out of bed so that you don’t wake your partner and get a jumpstart in the kitchen. Just before leaving the bedroom you look back but something doesn’t seem right.

Stepping closer to the bed, you reach out and shake your partner…no response. Diving to the other side of the bed you realize they’re not breathing.

In a panic you dial 911, the dispatcher takes your information and dispatches Ambulance, Fire and Police to your address. Keeping you on the line the dispatcher tries to get more information from you and attempts to coach you through doing some CPR but you’re so shaken you can’t do it.

Fortunately there was an Ambulance not too far from your address and within five minutes they’re at your house (although to you it feels like 20), then Fire Department arrives, then Police. They all stand there and look, asking you how long your loved one has been in this condition. You explain you woke up ten minutes ago and found them like this.

Looking down they cite several statistics as to why it’s not really worth it to do CPR since the outcome isn’t in their favour. Then they pack up their things and go on their way, wishing you their best as they leave your house.

A Better Ending, Peace Of Mind And What Would Really Happen

Fortunately there was an ambulance not too far from your address and within five minutes they’re at your house (although to you it feels like 20), then Fire Department arrives, then Police. You meet them at the front door and they start by asking you how long your loved one has been in this condition. You explain you woke up ten minutes ago and found them like this.

The Paramedics and First Responders go to work immediately upon entering the room while they are asking as many questions as they can to get a clearer picture of what happened. The police escort you out to your living room and gather up any other members of your family that might be there.

Sitting you down they tell you that it might be a good idea to start calling other family members to get as much support as possible. As time passes by, more Firefighters and advanced life support Paramedics show up. There are now between eight and ten people in your bedroom working on your loved one.

Using every bit of training, every medication and every last bit of knowledge they have, they work until getting a pulse again. At that point they transfer your partner to the hospital, however sadly their efforts are unsuccessful.

In the meantime more family members show up and you grieve with loved ones in your living room, having faith that these people are helping out.

Photo by: Greg Clarke

Photo by: Greg Clarke

What About Someone In Your Massage Clinic?

Imagine this is one of your patients in your clinic. You’ve had to call 911 because they have collapsed after your initial assessment and you find them this way coming back in the room. Are you confident in your CPR training that you took two and a half years ago? Can you do everything possible to help them out before the ambulance gets there?

The reality is, we’re not always going to be able to resuscitate everyone who has a cardiac arrest.

Here’s what some of the statistics say:

  • 88% of Cardiac Arrest’s happen at home
  • The life you save will most likely be a loved one (and I think we all care about our patients)
  • Effective CPR delivered immediately after sudden arrest will double or triple the likely hood of survival

What we can do is give each person’s family peace of mind that everything possible was done in order to help their family member.

Would you want your family member treated like the one in the first story?

Or would you want them treated like the one in the second story?

Even though there was little chance of bringing that family member back, we still make every effort to save them, so the family will spend the rest of their lives knowing someone tried to help.

The Reason Massage Therapists Need CPR And First Aid

Two weeks after this person collapses in your clinic and you helped them by calling 911 and doing CPR . The entire family shows up, eyes welled up with tears and pulls you in for the tightest hug you’ve ever felt because you did everything you could to help.

Every year after that at Christmas you get a card and a gift from the family saying: “thank you for trying to save our loved one”. You get to spend the rest of your life knowing that nothing else could have been done to help this person because YOU did everything possible to help them.

So yeah, the statistics may not be in favour of being able to bring everyone back to life. What I’d really like to see is the statistics that show how much their families appreciated the fact that someone gave a damn enough to try and rescue their loved one so they are in their lives another week, month, year or the rest of their lives.

While the Dr who wrote that article may rather have a DNR, how’s his family going to feel. Who knows maybe they’ve already filled out the DNR!?

As the creator of the site, I hope you like what you’re reading. I’m a Registered Massage Therapist in Victoria BC, former Massage college clinical supervisor, First Responder instructor, hockey fan and volunteer firefighter. Come hang out on the facebook page, where we can share some ideas about how to improve the perception of the Massage Therapy industry.

Jamie Johnston
Follow me

Jamie Johnston

Founder at The MTDC
As the creator of the site, I hope you like what you’re reading. I’m a Registered Massage Therapist in Victoria BC, former Massage college clinical supervisor, First Responder instructor, hockey fan and volunteer firefighter. Come hang out on the facebook page, where we can share some ideas about how to improve the perception of the Massage Therapy industry.
Jamie Johnston
Follow me

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