CPR on TV vs. Real Life

Is CPR Like What You See on TV?

February 14, 2024

CPR on Television

Throughout the years Hollywood has portrayed sudden cardiac arrest, CPR, and the use of defibrillators. You may have seen these in dramas like “ER,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” or even in a comedic scene on “The Office.” Although raising awareness of doing CPR and using an AED is great, it is important to remember there are some differences in responding to a cardiac arrest emergency in real life. It is important that pop culture strives to do a more accurate job showing the response to a sudden cardiac arrest emergency. Poor depiction of CPR can lead to poor public knowledge.

CPR on TV Myths

Myth: Timing

Often, when CPR is started on TV, the person will be “ok” after just a few chest compressions. In a sudden cardiac arrest emergency, it may take the entire chain of survival to help save life which includes:

· Activating Emergency Response

· High Quality CPR

· Rapid Defibrillation

· Advanced Resuscitation

· Post-Cardiac Arrest Care

· Recovery


Myth: Compression Depth

When watching CPR performed on TV, it is very rare an accurate depth for providing chest compressions is depicted. When performing CPR, it is important to press hard and fast in the center of the chest. The accurate depth for chest compressions is:

· Infant – 1 ¾ inches

· Child – 2 inches

· Adult – 2-2.4 inches


Myth: Chest Recoil

When performing CPR, it is important to remember to allow the chest to fully recoil in between each chest compression. This is rarely depicted when watching CPR being provided on TV.


Myth: Lack of Fatigue

CPR can be very tiring. This is not depicted on the big screen. If multiple people are comfortable performing CPR in an emergency situation, it is important to switch on and off to keep the compressions as effective as possible for as long as possible.

Myth: CPR only in medical settings

Often times, CPR is depicted by an ambulance arriving at scene and the person being thrown into the back of it where treatment is given. It is important to remember that the first three links in the chain of survival occur before the ambulance arrives. It is crucial that a lay rescuer provide CPR and use an AED if it is available before the ambulance shows up.


Myth: Using an AED on a flat-line

Many times, on TV, we have seen a patient showing a flat line on a monitor and the doctor grabs the paddles, rubs them together, and provides a shock, getting a rhythm back. Doctors have compared this to trying to restart a computer when it is already off. AEDs reset the electrical activity in the heart and a shockable rhythm needs to be detected to do that.


Myth: You can only use an AED if you are trained

In TV shows or in movies we always see the doctor or the nurse using the AED. It is important to remember that AEDs in public settings are for public use. You do not need to be a medical professional to use an AED.


Myth: CPR alone will save someone in cardiac arrest

CPR is really important because it does the work of the heart when the heart stops. It pumps blood to the vital organs including the brain. Ultimately when someone is in cardiac arrest and has an electrical problem with their heart, they need to be shocked by a defibrillator as soon as possible in order to have the highest possible chances of survival.

To learn more about Defibtech and to join us on our quest to save lives from sudden cardiac arrest, visit www.Defibtech.com.