Cardiac arrest is the sudden loss of your heart’s normal function. The heart simply stops pumping as it would normally. Indeed October is a great month to talk about hearts, as it coincides with Restart a heart day. This is where people all over the world come together to learn life saving skills.
The signs of an arrest include:
- A casualty who is unconscious and unresponsive
- Not breathing normally or barely breathing
This can happen to anyone, at any time. Without a doubt it is an medical emergency and prompt action is needed.
How Can I help?
Early defibrillation greatly increases your chance of survival. The quicker an automated external defibrillator (AED) arrives, certainly the more successful resuscitation will be. Conversely, every minute without defibrillation reduces chances of survival by 7–10 per cent.
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) helps to maintain oxygen and blood flow, to the vital organs, in addition to the heart itself. CPR alone is highly unlikely to convert an abnormal heart rhythm, which is why an AED is needed.
What is an AED and where can I find one?
An AED is a small, portable device used to identify different cardiac rhythms. The machine can deliver an electric shock, to kick start the heart to pump correctly. The device is very sophisticated and will only suggest a shock if one is required. It should be noted, if a shock able rhythm is not detected, no shock can be given. Instead the person will be advised to perform CPR until emergency medical help arrives.
The AED is simplistic to use, any one can use it, following the voice prompts from the device.
In particular, it is important to remember not every cardiac arrest casualty will survive. Other factors such as pre existing medical conditions would need to be taken into account.
Public access defibrillators may be found in:
- Shopping centers,
- Public transport stations, (bus, train, tube and airports)
- Leisure centres,
- Outside village halls, fire stations or shops
- You may even find one in a phone box!
Will my workplace have one?
Many workplaces have been proactive and have provided them already. However there is currently no law requiring them to do so. The employer is required to complete a thorough first aid needs assessment. This will first and foremost, identify areas of concern and what steps should be taken.
What is the defibrillator bill?
A bill is being considered in Parliament to make public access defibrillators mandatory for all public buildings.
The Resuscitation Council state only 3% of cardiac arrests happen within the recommended retrieval distance of a defibrillator.
The was originally discussed in 2016 but has been discussed again recently. At the time of writing, we are still waiting for the official decision.
If you are not able to attend a restart a heart event, or would like to speak to us about your workplace first aid needs. Then please feel free to contact us.