What to do in an Emergency

It is vital that anyone overdosing or having an adverse reaction to drugs receives professional help quickly. If Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is required and you know how to perform it then do so. CPR means giving rescue breaths followed by a number of chest compressions, and repeating this cycle continuously until the ambulance arrives. If you’re not sure, the following guide will help you to perform CPR.

Before starting CPR

  • Ensure your own safety first, then that of the victim (for example, if the victim is lying on a road, take steps to alert oncoming traffic).
  • Gently tap the victim and shout “are you all right?” If the victim can respond and there is no further danger from their location, leave the victim in the position they are in. If there is no response, shout for help. Send for help if there is more than one rescuer present.
  • Ask that person to dial 111 for an ambulance and return to confirm that the ambulance is on the way. Tell the ambulance dispatcher the location and telephone number closest to the scene and be prepared to provide other information before hanging up.
  • Do not hang up until instructed to do so.
  • If alone, the rescuer should assess the victim for unresponsiveness and absence of signs of life before going for help.
  • The victim must be on his/her back on a firm surface. Performing adult CPR
  • To start CPR, first open the airway by tilting the head back and lifting the chin forward. Make up to five attempts to give two effective rescue breaths, then start chest compressions. If vomit is visible in the mouth, it should be wiped out by using fingers that are covered with a piece of cloth.
  • Give 15 chest compressions at a rate of 100 a minute. The depth of each compression is 4–5cm. The 15 compressions are followed by two effective breaths. Repeat the cycles of 15 compressions and two effective breaths.
  • To find the correct hand position, place the heel of one hand over the lower half of the breastbone. Place the heel of the second hand on top of the first. The fingers should be interlocked, or the hand on top can grasp the wrist of the hand on the chest.
  • Ensure the fingers are kept off the chest. The rescuer should keep his/her shoulders directly over the chest, and with elbows straight and locked push down on the chest.
  • After three minutes (finishing with two breaths) and every few minutes after that, reassess the victim for signs of life. If there are no signs of life give two effective breaths and continue with 15 compressions and two breaths
  • Continue until: the victim shows signs of life, trained help arrives; or you can no longer continue.

If the victim is unconscious, breathing and has other signs of life, turn the victim onto his/her side in the recovery position and ensure the airway is kept open. For more information, view the website of the New Zealand Resuscitation Council at www.nzrc.org.nz