What would you do if a member of your team had a cardiac arrest?
In England, only 8% of people survive a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). A major contributor behind this statistic is that only 30 – 40% of bystanders intervene upon seeing someone collapse.
Mark Gilmore, managing director of Aero Healthcare, a provider of first aid equipment and medical devices, discusses how anyone can help an SCA sufferer – regardless of their medical capabilities.
So what is cardiac arrest, and what causes it?
Sudden cardiac arrest (or SCA) is when the heart enters a chaotic rhythm. It results from a disturbance in the heart that disrupts its usual function, stopping blood flow to the rest of the body.
Who does SCA affect?
Anyone can be a victim of a cardiac arrest – without warning, and regardless of their age or physical health.
84% of SCA incidents occur outside of a healthcare setting, meaning more than 30,000 people in the UK suffer from cardiac arrest without professional medical help on hand.
“Surely, this is something best left to a medical professional…”
Most people don’t intervene in the event of a cardiac arrest for fear of making things worse, or assume it would be best to wait until a paramedic is on the scene. But this is untrue.
Due to just how immediately a cardiac arrest can become fatal, any help is better than none.
The average response time for emergency services is around 8 – 10 minutes. For every minute that passes without defibrillation, chances of surviving a SCA drop by about 10%.
After ten minutes without defibrillation, the chances of survival are almost zero.
What should I do if I witness a Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
If you come across someone suffering an SCA, it is essential to act quickly.
1. Call the emergency services
The first thing you should do if you witness someone collapse is see if they are responsive by giving them a “shake and shout”. If they remain unconscious, check for normal breathing before calling 999 and requesting an ambulance.
2. Start CPR
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) helps to pump blood around the body when someone’s heart is struggling to do so. It also helps prevent damage to the brain and vital organs.
The British Heart Foundation recommends performing 30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths and repeating this until an ambulance arrives.
3. Look for a defibrillator
Defibrillators can be used by anyone – not just by healthcare professionals.
If you can’t see a defibrillator nearby, or don’t have one on site, you can ask emergency services to identify the location of your nearest public AED (automated external defibrillator) during your 999 call.
AEDs stored in public locations are usually protected to keep them secure, but emergency services can provide you with a key code to gain access.
Today, many devices feature clear, simple voice and visual prompts or descriptions of how to operate them, meaning they can be used effectively without prior training or medical experience.
What more can I do to keep my team safe?
5% of all Sudden Cardiac Arrests will occur in the workplace, affecting 100 people in the UK every week.
There is no UK legislation that obliges businesses or premises to have a defibrillator, but under English law, failing to take appropriate safety precautions on your site could be construed as negligence.
In short, defibrillators should be available in every location imaginable, given the unpredictability and severity of SCA.
Defibrillators should be treated in the same way as fire extinguishers – they should be easily accessible to everyone, rather than locked away in a cupboard.
When procuring a defibrillator, always check to see if the supplier offers training options, or easy ways to integrate it into your daily operations. On site or online training will ensure this, rather than options that require your team to travel to a specific location.
Remember, by using a defibrillator you can increase the chance of someone surviving from 6% to 74%.
For more information about Aero Healthcare’s defibrillators call 0845 604 828 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.