Author Topic: STAGING: Realistic CPR  (Read 3237 times)

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salbano

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STAGING: Realistic CPR
« on: Jul 17, 2015, 03:35 pm »
Hey,

So has anyone had experience doing CPR on stage? I'm probably going to be working a show, and there are three actors - one of which is "passed" out for a good fifteen minutes when the other two will be performing constant CPR on him.

But it's tricky. Because for it to look realistic, you have really have to look like you're using force when compressing and look like you're blowing into the mouth and the receiver has to extend their chest. It's actually pretty physically demanding and potentially dangerous.

I, obviously, want to do this as safely as possibly, but I can't seem to find out how. I know the performers will take CPR training, but there's got to be more to it than that, right? (And, none of my fight choreographer people have any experience with this either.)

Thanks! Any hints or tips would be appreciated.

MatthewShiner

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Re: STAGING: Realistic CPR
« Reply #1 on: Jul 17, 2015, 04:36 pm »
I am wondering if the person having the CPR performed on him could have some sort of shield over their chest, and perhaps be on something soft under them . . .
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SMMeade

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Re: STAGING: Realistic CPR
« Reply #2 on: Jul 17, 2015, 07:20 pm »
I'm an EMT, and this makes me nervous. Where are you hoping the patient actor will be? Realistically, CPR is done on a hard surface, like a backboard or floor. But Matthew is right, to make this work without hurting anyone, the patient will need to be on something that has some bounce to it with a protective plate across the chest so that they aren't actually decompressing his chest, just pressing him into the floor.
I'm also a little nervy about the actors "giving" CPR for 15 straight minutes. CPR is fairly exhausting when done correctly and if they're doing it consistently every night for a run, there's a possibility of hurting their wrists if they're not trained on proper technique. They should definitely talk to the instructor during their class about their specific needs.

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salbano

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Re: STAGING: Realistic CPR
« Reply #3 on: Jul 17, 2015, 08:22 pm »
I am wondering if the person having the CPR performed on him could have some sort of shield over their chest, and perhaps be on something soft under them . . .

That's what I'm thinking too - specifically the chest shield part.

I'm an EMT, and this makes me nervous. Where are you hoping the patient actor will be? Realistically, CPR is done on a hard surface, like a backboard or floor. But Matthew is right, to make this work without hurting anyone, the patient will need to be on something that has some bounce to it with a protective plate across the chest so that they aren't actually decompressing his chest, just pressing him into the floor.
I'm also a little nervy about the actors "giving" CPR for 15 straight minutes. CPR is fairly exhausting when done correctly and if they're doing it consistently every night for a run, there's a possibility of hurting their wrists if they're not trained on proper technique. They should definitely talk to the instructor during their class about their specific needs.


The idea is that this happens in a subway car that has been shut down. So it will be a flat surface. Not sure about hard or soft, but it could be winter and so the patient could be on top of a very heavy/padded/thick coat.

And I'm very cognizant and worried about giving CPR part too. It can be very tiring. I haven't practiced it yet, but there might be a way to "fake" the compressing to make it seem like you're putting weight on it.

But yea, the rehearsals don't start in a couple months (if at all), but I see this as a very huge potential problem that needs a lot of planning and knowledge to do right.

loebtmc

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Re: STAGING: Realistic CPR
« Reply #4 on: Jul 18, 2015, 01:03 am »
(SMMEade! So am... well was ... I!! and I use that training all the damn time!)

Talk to the set designer about a way for there to be give under the person, and yes some kind of chest shield can work - maybe the costumer can build a foam or pillow cover to that chest shield  is great. And it's essentially fight choreography - it's gotta look good but there shd be no (or as little as humanly possible) pressure on the person who is receiving.

You will notice on TV that actors give CPR with bent elbows like a plié. Much as that's wrong, it protects the actor receiving it.

SMMeade

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Re: STAGING: Realistic CPR
« Reply #5 on: Jul 18, 2015, 02:10 am »
(SMMEade! So am... well was ... I!! and I use that training all the damn time!)

...

You will notice on TV that actors give CPR with bent elbows like a plié. Much as that's wrong, it protects the actor receiving it.

It's so handy, isn't it? Though the only hospital trip I've ever had to mandate was my own. :(
And I've actually never noticed that. I don't watch a lot of medical shows so now I'll be looking for it.

hbelden

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Re: STAGING: Realistic CPR
« Reply #6 on: Jul 18, 2015, 12:56 pm »
What's the audience arrangement?  Proscenium? Arena? non-traditional?  I'm asking because there may be a way to use the kind of upstage/downstage sightline cheats used in fight choreography to keep the actors safe.  Maybe the actual point of impact is a spring in the downside armpit of the unconscious character, or something?  Maybe there's a way for the third actor to mask some of the unrealistic action with her or his body?

Only other thing I'd say is that as stage manager, you should make personal contact with the actor cast as the unconscious victim earlier rather than later, and check in that he or she has a real understanding of what the director will be asking.  Promise that actor safety (emotional and physical) is paramount in your approach to the work.  Then follow that up with your behavior.  Do what you can to support whatever rehearsal time is needed to achieve the "realistic" effect desired.  Trust between the entire company is going to need to be absolute.
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BenTheStageMan

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Re: STAGING: Realistic CPR
« Reply #7 on: Jul 18, 2015, 06:14 pm »
Also consider establishing some kind of "tell" for the "unconscious" actor to signal that something isn't going right.  Perhaps the padding isn't where it's supposed to be, or something didn't line up and some of the force from the compressions is hurting them, etc.  Something that signals to the person performing CPR they need to be shifted, or change up the angle, tale a break for a second, or even full on abort.  An unobtrusive hand signal, crossing of fingers, foot movement, eyebrow twitch--something that might be hidden from the audience in the chaos but the actors are looking for.  Plan out the signal, and establish a plan b or c.  Make sure everyone knows how it should be if it's going right, so they can tell when something is going wrong.
"Show people are doomed!  Doomed to a life of booze...and pills...and heavy meals late at night!" -Judy, "Ruthless!"

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salbano

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Re: STAGING: Realistic CPR
« Reply #8 on: Jul 19, 2015, 10:32 pm »
All good points.

It's a three quarter thrust stage, so not a lot of wiggle room with hiding stuff. And the stage would literally just be the three performers and upstage subway chairs.

I do think that am "emergency" signal is a definite must. It could be staged so that the patient's upstage arm could grab onto the person performing the CPR if there is too much pressure or something. But, from the play, if the patient had to break for some reason, the show definitely allows for the improvisation for him to "come too" for a second. The CPR giver would then know to "lighten" up the pressure. Good things to think about ahead of time.

And I'm sure we will discover more things when this actually start, but this is all really awesome. Thanks!

Dart

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Re: STAGING: Realistic CPR
« Reply #9 on: Jul 21, 2015, 02:31 pm »
They may still choose to do the breathing since it's more "realistic," but the past two times I got my CPR certification the instructor told us breaths are no longer considered necessary. Whoever the People In Charge are, they have decided that people had too many CPR steps to remember and took too long to get to the part that matters. All they recommend you do now is check if the person is conscious and/or breathing, and start compressions as soon as you can.

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SMMeade

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Re: STAGING: Realistic CPR
« Reply #10 on: Jul 23, 2015, 01:38 am »

Dart, you're correct. The American Heart Association, based off recent studies, now says that chest compressions on their own are basically just as effective as compressions + breaths. They recommend not doing them unless you have a CPR face mask- that way, the rescuer is not exposed to anything the patient might be carrying. Of course, this is a fairly recent change to the CPR curriculum so most people trained by media still think of breaths as a main component.
« Last Edit: Jul 23, 2015, 01:40 am by SMMeade »

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DiploMattOnline

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Re: STAGING: Realistic CPR
« Reply #11 on: Dec 16, 2018, 02:25 pm »
They may still choose to do the breathing since it's more "realistic," but the past two times I got my CPR certification the instructor told us breaths are no longer considered necessary. Whoever the People In Charge are, they have decided that people had too many CPR steps to remember and took too long to get to the part that matters. All they recommend you do now is check if the person is conscious and/or breathing, and start compressions as soon as you can.

I have to disagree with this. As a former EMT, breaths are still given, however, if you're not comfortable performing mouth to mouth, you don't have to. The reason for this is that the heart stores - on average - 5 minutes of oxygen within the system. If you don't provide rescue breaths, their chance of survival drops (NOT DRAMATICALLY) but it drops. I would suggest carrying a mouth guard. You can get them off amazon for pennies.


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