When the AHA changed its CPR Guidelines in 2005 to increase the rate of chest compressions to 100 compressions per minute (CPM), it was found that many responders had difficulty grasping just exactly how fast that is. “The most common error is to push too fast,” according to Alson S. Inaba, a pediatric emergency physician at Kapiolani Medical Center in Honolulu. When he asks CPR class members to demonstrate 100 CPM on a manikin, the usual rate is 120-150 CPM, which is much too fast to allow the chest to fully recoil (also part of the new recommendations).
One day, while Dr. Inaba was listening to a recording of the Bee-Gees 1970s disco hit “Stayin’ Alive”, and acting on a hunch, he timed the song’s rhythm and found it was exactly 100 beats per minute. He now uses that song during CPR training, and the students consistently deliver chest compressions in the range of 99, 100, or 101 CPM. “Most people know the tune, and it sticks with them” says Dr. Inaba.
He now uses the song in all his CPR classes and has shared it with other CPR instructors. According to Dr. Inaba, “Hollywood couldn’t have written a better script: ‘Staying Alive’ describes the AHA mission and reminds us what we’re trying to achieve with chest compressions, and the song was number 1 in 1979 when AEDs first came out.”
Just as a side note: There is another song with the same tempo that could be used in keeping pace with the proper compression rate, but the title may not be quite as appropriate. That song is Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust.”