STUTTGART, Germany — American Red Cross officials in Europe, citing shortages of instructors for basic CPR and first aid, are seeking volunteers who wish to become trainers.

They are also asking that people trained in the old way of cardiopulmonary resuscitation become retrained on methods that were instituted this year.

The agency teaches CPR and first aid to members of the public who want to be able to treat victims of cardiac arrest, drowning, choking and serious injury.

Red Cross officials say there is an increased need for trainers and students due to the new methods recommended by the American Medical Association, and the continuing turnover in members of the military community.

“We just had a class where we were only able to take 10 people because we had just one instructor,” said Anita McPherson, senior station manager in Kaiserslautern. “We could have taken 20 people if we had an instructor and co-instructor.”

“Whenever you’re working with a military community, there is a high turnover,” said Amanda Rolsen, assistant station manager in Vicenza, Italy.

“We just instructed a bunch of people to be instructors, but we’re going to lose half of them in the next couple of months.”

CPR is a series of chest compressions and mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths given to cardiac-arrest victims. The process is designed to circulate blood and prolong life until medics arrive or an automated external defibrillator can be located.

For years, CPR students were taught to alternate 15 chest compressions and two deep rescue breaths on adults, or five compressions and one breath on children and infants. Students were also taught to check for a pulse and to not give chest compressions to a victim who had a pulse.

The new method, established by the American Heart Association in 2005, phased in by the Red Cross last year and made standard procedure this year, calls for alternating 30 chest compressions and two normal (not deep) breath for all victims, regardless of age. It also eliminates the need to check for a pulse, since many lay-responders are not skilled enough to correctly detect one.

The new method simplifies training and enhances the odds that lay-responders will be able to help a victim at the moment of truth, according to Dr. (Col.) Randolph Modlin, a training director for advanced cardiac support with the Heidelberg-based European Regional Medical Command.

“When somebody has a cardiac arrest, it’s a very scary moment and people panic,” Modlin said. “The simpler the procedures, the more likely people are to remember them and apply them appropriately.”

The Red Cross recommends that people are retrained annually on CPR, and every three years on first aid.

“If you don’t use the skill, you may forget how to do it,” said Doreen Watts, station manager in Vilseck.

Old-school CPR students might not even know about automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, Watts said.

The lunchbox-sized machines are increasingly available in malls, airports and other locations, she said.

CPR: Old and new

Rescue breathsOld method — Deep breath into a person’s lungs for two secondsNew method — Normal breath for one second, until the person’s chest rises

Chest compression-to-rescue breath ratio Old method — 15:2 for adults; 5:1 for children and infantsNew method — 30:2 for all

Chest compression rate Old method — 100 per minute, adults and children; 120 per minute for infantsNew method — 100 per minute for all

Chest compression landmarking method for placement of hands Old method — Trace up the ribs for adults and children; one finger below the nipple line at the center of chest for infantsNew method — Center of chest for adults and children; just below nipple line at center of chest for infantsSOURCE: American Red Cross, Stuttgart, Germany, office

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