A medical emergency can be scary, and a delayed response can be fatal. If you prepare yourself for an emergency now, you will be ready to act immediately. By taking courses on administering First Aid, CPR, and using an AED, you can save a life.
A cardiac arrest can strike anyone without warning. Imagine you are at home or work when a family member or coworker suddenly collapses nearby. They are unresponsive when you call out or shake them, and there are a few seconds of seizures and gasping. They don’t wake up, and you realize they’ve stopped breathing. This is a sudden cardiac arrest, and their heart has stopped—you must act fast.
What do you do?
Try not to panic. In the case of a cardiac arrest, the worst thing to do is nothing. You won’t hurt the victim because when the heart stops beating, they are momentarily clinically dead. But you can turn the situation around by doing the following:
- Try to get the person to respond. If they can’t, yell for help and call 911.
- If someone else is nearby, have them call 911 and find an AED (automated external defibrillator)
- Check for signs of life. If the person isn’t breathing or is barely gasping, you need to begin CPR.
- Push down on the chest at least two inches and let it return to its normal position. Repeat this motion quickly – about 100 to 120 pumps per minute.
- As soon as you find an AED, turn it on and follow the prompts.
- If there isn’t an AED available, keep doing CPR until the person starts to breathe or move. Someone with safety training or medical experience can take over on arrival.
Anyone can provide treatment. Even if you lack training, you can call 911, begin chest compressions, and follow the AED directions while waiting for EMS to arrive. But, if you’ve had First Aid, CPR, and AED training, practice will allow you to think more clearly and react faster.
Seven in ten cardiac arrests happen at home with family and friends. You’ll know if someone is at risk for SCA if they have experienced these medical issues:
- Drug overdose
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Family history of heart disease or stroke
- Previous episode of cardiac arrest
- Previous heart attack
- Severe heart failure
- Tendency to faint
- Underlying heart conditions and congenital abnormalities
The American Heart Association recommends that everyone be aware of the signs of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). When the heart malfunctions, it stops beating. No blood is traveling in the body or the brain. The victim passes out, but may gasp for breath for several minutes. They may experience 10-20 seconds of seizure or shaking as the brain stops receiving blood and oxygen from the heart. The victim is never awake, and without immediate help, they will die within minutes. SCA is the third leading cause of death in the U.S., but we can increase the survival rate with First Aid, CPR, and AED training.
Celebrate Cardiac Awareness Month by getting certified to save lives!
SCA or Heart Attack? https://www.sca-aware.org/about-sudden-cardiac-arrest/sca-or-heart-attack
Sudden Cardiac Arrest Is A National Public Health Crisis, Landing Page, https://callpushshock.org/
Emergency Treatment of Cardiac Arrest, https://www.heart.org/en/health-topics/cardiac-arrest/emergency-treatment-of-cardiac-arrest