Lessons from ACLS

I’m studying ACLS this week! (That’s “Advanced Cardiac Life Support”.) Basically, what to do when someone’s heart stops. In a hospital, that’s called a “code”. I believe I will use the following procedure when I am called to run my first real code:

You know, except for that awkward not-really-love-scene-in-a-closet thing.


When performing chest compressions during CPR (Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation) during a code, you’re supposed to deliver about 100 compressions per minute. (Note: Spelling “resuscitation” correctly took me four tries….)

Major workout.

But, like all workouts, it’s better with music. Because who wants to learn how to count at a rate of 100 beats per minute?


There are two songs that you can use to control the speed of compressions.

One, interestingly, happens to be “Staying Alive”.

The other, ironically, happens to be “Another One Bites The Dust”.

I guarantee you practically every healthcare provider has one of those two songs running through her head as she gives chest compressions. If she doesn’t, her ACLS instructor was likely a zombie. She was lucky to escape ACLS class with her life.

So, now you can sing along the next time you see someone on TV giving CPR! And if they’re doing it at the wrong speed, you’ll know! That way, you can mock them appropriately!

Let’s practice! (Some of these involve spoilers, I think.) Anyway, I give you: A Parade of CPR Absurdity!!!

Note: Guidelines change faster than the epidemiological spread of zombie-ism. So, when some of these were filmed, it’s possible that they were per the guidelines at the time. Some of them.

Added bonus: If you sing out loud, you can make your dog and/or significant other stare at you with an adorable, quizzical look!

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If you use this as if it were real medical information, I’ll start singing “Staying Alive”. I may or may not accompany myself with chest compressions. Regardless, it will not be pretty.


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7 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Haha, good news that at least the “rescue breath” part is dispensed with (thank you npr 😉

    • Yeah, I heard about that while I was recertifying. Interesting, no?

      • Definitely! And there I was, always wondered about the purpose of filling someone’s lung with CO2… ;p

        • Well, supposedly you breathe out plenty of oxygen, because we’re not perfect metabolizers.

  2. As I recall, the standard wasn’t always 100 compressions per minute, so some of these examples are simply anachronistic, not wrong. I know for a fact that the show ER shows this change in the protocol because they explicitly mention it while trying to resuscitate someone during a trauma scene.

    • Yup, you’re absolutely right. I think I said that in the italicized note right before the string of examples.

      Actually, today I’m about to go for a Grand Rounds lecture about the NEW new guidelines changes. This is what’s awesome about medicine; it’s always evolving. Sometimes it’s hard to keep up with, though.


  3. […] also a later follow-up post, all about CPR, with a collection of Youtube videos showing really bad resuscitation technique. […]

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