Posted by Bob Trenkamp on 11/02/2010

I thought I had heard of all the reasons given by people for not being willing to learn CPR. But Christine Lind - SLICC's Director of Skidaway Operations - shared one with me yesterday that still has my head shaking.
The person had told Christine that they didn't want to learn CPR because they didn't want to someday have the responsibility for whether a person lived or died.
What the person was missing is an understanding of the purpose of CPR: it keeps the heart and brain alive so that when the ambulance gets there, the people with the drugs and electricity can try to restart the heart. Refusing to perform CPR means that the victim's chance of recovering remain about one-in-twenty. Refusing to perform CPR also means that if the ambulance crew is able to restart the heart, the odds that the victim will have significant neurological damage will be significantly higher.
CPR is a win-win act: if you perform CPR, you have preserved the playing field for the paramedics who arrive in the ambulance. If the patient survives with major brain function intact, you were part of a team that saved a life; if the patient doesn't survive, it wasn't your fault: you preserved the playing field, but not all cardiac arrest victims can be saved.
CPR by itself doesn't save a life...it's one link in the chain of survival. Refusal to perform CPR doesn't remove a person from having the responsibility for whether a victim lives or dies. Just the opposite is true: refusal to perform CPR is a conscious decision that assures that the outcome will be worse than it might have been.
Bob