NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) - Imagine that a person has as a medical emergency and collapses near you at the grocery store. Would you know what to do?
For Ashley Larcinese, she never imagined that person would be her sister, and that her high school CPR class would prove to be instrumental in saving her life.
"She was choking on prosciutto and melon, and when she passed out then things just go crazy," Larcinese said.
Dustin Anderson is a lieutenant paramedic with the Franklin Fire Department and says the very first course of action should always be calling 911.
“By calling 911, getting first responders en-route, that's above all else gonna be the most important thing you can do,” Anderson said.
The next thing to do is patient assessment. Anderson says to tap on the person’s shoulders and shout to try and get a response, then check to see if they're breathing.
If they aren’t breathing, or it sounds irregular, start compressions.
"Just slightly above the sternum, kind of where the notch of the sternum starts to slope down — that's where you'll put both hands in the center of the chest,” Anderson said.
Using locked elbows and downward pressure, each compression should be about a second.
The two numbers to remember: 30 and 2.
It's 30 compressions then two breaths repeating until the person is OK or help arrives.
If you have to choose just one to remember: consistent compressions are priority.
"Doing compressions is buying that brain precious time,” Anderson said.
With every passing minute, your chance of survival drops by 10 percent without direct intervention.
If you're giving breaths, do a head tilt and chin lift. Then, Anderson says to pinch the nostrils shut and blow into the mouth.
For a child, about 1-year-old or younger, it's a slightly different process with compressions.
"You're going to do 30 compressions, two breaths, the difference here though, we're doing what's called a two-hand encircling technique," Anderson said. "We're using two thumbs, or you can use two fingers. The bottom line is, something this simple could save a child's life."
It’s easy and potentially life-saving advice, and easy to learn yourself.
“Absolutely, it's easy,” Larcinese said. “It's takes what, three minutes to learn how to do?”
Another useful life-saving tool you should know how to use is an AED, or automated external defibrillator.
AEDs can be found in most public places — including grocery stores, gyms, restaurants and stores — and can save someone from a potentially fatal cardiac event.
Lt. Anderson demonstrated how to use an AED for us. Watch his lesson here: