Stayin' Alive with CPR

In May, three staff members from our Prospect clinic attended a seminar called ‘Stayin Alive with CPR’, as the name suggests it was based around cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). The seminar was hosted by the Veterinary Nurses Council of Australia (VNCA), who, throughout the year host a number of educational seminars for veterinary nurses in Australia. At AdelaideVet we like to support staff members in their continuing education, learning new skills and sharing them with the workplace.

Rhonda Ponder was the speaker for the evening. She is an Accredited Veterinary Nurse, who has worked in many emergency veterinary clinics and has certificates in ‘Basic Life Support’ and ‘Advance Life Support’. She was a great speaker and was full of new and interesting information.

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the set of life-preserving actions we take when a patient goes into cardiopulmonary arrest (CPA). CPA can occur for a number of reasons but generally, it is due to lack of effective activity of the heart (cardiac arrest) or cessation of the respiratory system and effective ventilation (respiratory arrest).

The aim of CPR is to provide artificial ventilation and circulation until normal function returns.

A patient suffering from cardiopulmonary arrest may show the following signs collapse, no pulse or audible heartbeat, no breathing, fixed, dilated pupils or their mucous membranes (gums) may become blue (cyanotic).

When a patient starts to show these signs the team whips into action. Rhonda explained that it is best if staff members have clear knowledge of their roles and roles of other staff members in the team. Roles may include:

Compressor - start cardiac compressions on the patient (changing staff members when needed).

Airway/breathing - clear the airway of any obstructions, place an endotracheal tube to give an adequate supply of oxygen to the lungs and start to ventilate the patient.

Intravenous placement/emergency drugs/fluids - placing an intravenous catheter into the vein, draw up emergency drugs and administer when needed.

Monitoring, patient records - record emergency drugs given and the time given and also gathering equipment needed.

Team Leader - assign roles to staff members, prescribe emergency drugs, coordinate the team.

Performing CPR is a team effort with everyone contributing in different ways but all with the same goal… to help save a life.

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