Surviving cardiac arrest
September 1, 2007
Every minute of every day, sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) claims another victim, according to the American Red Cross. Are you prepared if an SCA occurs on your site?
Statistics show that more than 200,000 Americans die of SCA every year, and up to 50,000 of these deaths could have been prevented, according to the Red Cross.
By someone initiating the so-called cardiac chain of survival and immediately using an automated external defibrillator (AED) on the victim at the time of the emergency.
The cardiac chain of survival is a series of four critical steps that help ensure survival from sudden cardiac arrest:
Step 1: Early access to care (calling 9-1-1 or another emergency number);
Step 2: Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR);
Step 3: Early defibrillation;
Step 4: Early advanced cardiac life support, as needed.
The third step, delivering an electrical shock to the heart, which is known as defibrillation, is recognized as the most critical step in restoring cardiac rhythm and resuscitating a victim of SCA, says the Red Cross.
Bottom line: You should consider implementing an AED program at your workplace, if you don’t already have one.
Developing an AED program
An AED program can be developed in a workplace, or in places where large groups of people gather. The Red Cross offers these suggestions when implementing a program at your workplace:
Assessment. Determine the needs for your environment. How many devices are necessary? How long will it take emergency medical services (EMS) to arrive at the site of the emergency? Are there obstacles such as stairs, secured doors, etc.?
Funding. Determine the budget necessary to purchase the equipment, train employees, volunteers or other staff, and provide program maintenance.
Legislation. Understand the current laws concerning AED use in your state. Consult with your legal advisor or local state EMS department for further information on the most current AED legislation in your state.
Implementation. Determine if your organization needs an internal implementation team to manage the program or needs to purchase a solution package to provide management oversight. The management of the program could include a program point of contact, medical direction, program maintenance, data management, development of protocols and response plans.
The American Heart Association recommends that comprehensive plans be developed for responding to cardiac emergencies. Good plans include:
• Training designated rescuers in CPR and the use of AEDs.
• Designating rescuers who will be onsite and readily accessed.
• A system for activating a response by the designated rescuers.
• Locating AEDs where they can be retrieved within 1-1/2 to 2 minutes.
• Integration with local EMS to ensure rapid response.
• Physician oversight of the program.
AEDs have become an important lifesaving technology and can play a key role in treating cardiac arrest at your workplace. Why not put AED technology to work for you.
SIDEBAR: Got 30 minutes? You can learn CPRNew research, published recently in the medical journal Resuscitation, found that people learn as much in a 30-minute CPR course as in a traditional four-hour class.
The study, conducted by emergency doctors at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, showed that the ability to perform CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED) was as good or better in those who took the shorter course, even six months after training.
The key, they found, was in the method of teaching. The shorter courses involved more hands-on learning rather than lecturing.
The research is important, the American Heart Association said in a statement, because the number one reason people cite for not learning CPR is the time required.