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BREAKING NEWS — The American Red Cross and American Heart Association today announced changes to guidelines for administering first aid. Among the most noteworthy revisions are new and updated recommendations for the treatment of bleeding; recognition of stroke; recovery position; anaphylaxis (severe allergic reaction); use of aspirin with heart attacks; and treatment of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) in diabetics.  Read the rest of this entry »


Chewable aspirin is absorbed faster and is more effective than regular aspirin that is either swallowed whole or chewed and then swallowed, a new study shows. This “seemingly quite simple finding” could lead to improvements in the care of heart attack patients, researchers say.

Sean Nordt, MD, of the University of California, San Diego, and colleagues, gave three different types of aspirin to 14 people between ages of 20 and 61. One group was given regular solid aspirin tablets and told to swallow the pills whole. Another was given regular aspirin tablets and told to chew the pills before swallowing. A third group was given chewable aspirin tablets, and swallowing occurred during chewing.

The researchers then measured levels of aspirin in the blood; researchers say the chewable aspirin consistently showed the greatest and fastest absorption rates. The findings are being presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Medicine in New Orleans. Researchers say the study was done because current guidelines recommend chewing to increase absorption, but evidence that that’s best is scant.

Thirteen of the 14 participants were men; the mean age was 31. Over the course of the study, each participant ingested each form of aspirin; 1,950 milligrams of aspirin (the equivalent of six regular aspirin tablets) was administered every time. Measurements of blood showed clearly that aspirin was absorbed fastest when administered in chewable form and swallowed. “This supports the recommendation to use chewable [aspirin] formulation in the treatment of ACS,” the researchers say. ACS refers to “acute coronary syndrome,” the general medical term meaning heart attack or sudden onset of angina.

Current guidelines call for giving heart attack patients one aspirin tablet and for them to chew it to speed up its anti-blood-clotting properties.

Aspirin works within 15 minutes to prevent the formation of blood clots in people with known coronary artery disease. One adult-strength aspirin contains 325 milligrams. The current study suggests that 325 milligrams of chewable aspirin would be preferred in the setting of a heart attack or sudden onset of angina ( chest pain). However, aspirin should still be taken under these circumstances if the chewable form is unavailable.

Aspirin use in patients with heart disease is common. People with known coronary disease often are told to take a “baby” aspirin (81 milligrams) daily to reduce their risk of heart attack of stroke.

Want to learn more? Take a Red Cross CPR class and learn to save a life!
Visit the Center for Wilderness Safety’s website at
and sign up for an American Red Cross course today!

Since this topic has now come up several times in greater detail than I had anticipated in going into during CPR & Wilderness First Aid classes, I figured that I would pass this information on to you all regarding the American Red Cross’s stance on Do Not Resuscitate orders and what you as a lay-responder should do if you encounter one.

To Summarize:
1) As the Lay Responder (Red Cross CPR/First Aid certified only), one does not have to acknowledge the DNR Order.
2) If you are Wilderness First Aid certified or higher (WFR, FR, EMT, etc.), you are to look at the document and may “accept it’s conditions” to not perform CPR in the event of a cardiac or respiratory arrest only if the following conditions exist:
a. The document MUST be the ORIGINAL (copies and verbal statements do NOT count in a court of law).
b. The document MUST be SIGNED by the correct people (person’s personal physician; and the patient or power of attorney).
c. The document is only valid for ONE YEAR from the date signed by the physician. After which it is no longer valid.
3) If you are a lay responder (American Red Cross certified only) then take the document and give it to the paramedics upon their arrival.
4) If the patient has a Living Will, it is NOT THE SAME and therefore you are to perform CPR as needed according to your initial assessment.
5) A DNR order can be revoked by the patient (or power of attorney) destroying the document (ripping it in half is sufficient) and cutting of their DNR bracelet (if they have one).
6) A TATOO which says “Do Not Resuscitate” is NOT A LEGAL DNR and must be ignored.

This information is specific for Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. If you live in another state, check their laws regarding DNR orders (it’s fairly easy to find on Google). I hope that answers any questions that you may have had regarding Do Not Resuscitate orders! If you’ve got more questions, please feel free to call us at (703) 444-9468.

Cardiac Emergencies

One thing that we all take for granted, is our heart’s health and ability to keep pumping oxygen rich blood through our system – keeping us alive. Unfortunately, sometimes our heart can stop beating (asystole) or start to quiver and not pump in a rhythmic fashion (fibrillation& tachycardia). When these events occur – or when not enough oxygen is getting to the brain – we’ve got a cardiac emergency.

Normally, a “Cardiac Emergency” means that you may have to perform CPR, which stands for Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation. The main goal of CPR is to continue the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain and rest of the body. The goal is not to restart the heart and bring the patient back to life. The chance that a person will survive a cardiac emergency after only being administered CPR is only roughly 2% (JEMS)!  However, that is better than none… Read the rest of this entry »

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