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If you’re certified in CPR, have taken even one intro lesson in your middle school health class, or have seen any movie ever that uses training mannequins, you know that more often than not those mannequins are male. So, when people are training or watching someone else train, they’re doing so on a flat chest. News flash: male mannequins don’t have boobs, but real women do!
A heartbreaking new study led by Audrey Blewer, a University of Pennsylvania researcher, found that 45 percent of men suffering cardiac arrest in public were given CPR, while only 39 percent of women received it. The study involved nearly 20,000 cases across the country, according to Stat News.
“It can be kind of daunting thinking about pushing hard and fast on the center of a woman’s chest,” says Blewer, going on to say some people might fear they could be hurting a woman when performing the life-saving technique. Other concerns include feeling uncomfortable about removing a woman’s clothes for better access or touching her breasts. But UPenn’s Dr. Benjamin Abella says none of those things are necessary to perform CPR. “You put your hands on the sternum, which is the middle of the chest. In theory, you’re touching in between the breasts," he explains.
Back to the gender-specific mannequins. Mayo Clinic’s Dr. Roger White says he is worried about people not knowing where to place defibrillator pads on women with larger breasts. This is a problem that needs to be fixed with investigation and education, no doubt about it.
Regardless of the technical hurdle, when it comes to CPR Abella says, “This is not a time to be squeamish because it’s a life and death situation.” Put your boobie-phobia aside and get your mind out of the gutter, because I’d be willing to bet that any woman would rather live and have you graze her breast in the process than succumb to the fatality of cardiac arrest.