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Montefiore in the News

March 8, 2012

FDNY Instructors Teach Parents How to Respond Quickly in an Emergency

During an emergency, knowing how to perform infant/child cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can save a child's life. In conjunction with American Heart Month, CPR instructors from the New York City Fire Department recently led a CPR class for parents of patients at The Children's Hospital at Montefiore (CHAM).

The methods of administering CPR vary depending on the victim's age. Infant CPR is administered to any victim under the age of 12 months. Infants, just as children, have a much better chance of survival if CPR is performed immediately. Child CPR is given to anyone under the age of 8 and older than one year old. The procedure is similar to that for adults with some minor but important differences related to technique for chest compressions.

According to Scott Ceresnak, MD, pediatric cardiologist at CHAM, the correct way to administer CPR and initiate the chain of survival in infants and children differs slightly from adults because of what is likely the underlying health problem that caused the cardiac arrest.

"When the victim is an adult, the most important thing to do is to immediately activate EMS or get an external defibrillator and then to perform chest compressions to re-start the heart. This is because most adult victims are suffering from cardiac arrest secondary to an intrinsic problem stemming from the heart," Dr. Ceresnak said. "But it's different with infants and young children. It is more commonly their breathing, or a respiratory problem, that causes a child's heart to stop. For example, a child with a serious respiratory infection may have difficulty breathing, and that can lead to cardiac arrest."

Dr. Ceresnak added though that while respiratory problems are the most common cause of cardiac arrest in children, arrhythmias can also occur. "Think of the kid who is playing basketball and suddenly collapses on the court," he said.

By learning how to perform infant/child CPR, parents can gain the confidence to act quickly and competently in the event of an emergency. New York City residents who want information about training classes offered by the Fire Department can call 311.