Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a state in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. If this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. In addition, if the heartbeat is not restored with an electrical shock immediately, death follows within minutes. SCA accounts for more than 350,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. The Bystander CPR and AED use are crucial to survival. Thus, learning CPR is important, not only for medical professionals, but for anyone.
Symptoms of Sudden Cardiac Arrest:
- No pulse
- Chest pain
- Heart palpitations
- Lack of breathing
Chain of Survival
The Chain of Survival is a treatment method designed by the American Heart Association to treat victims with sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). In this condition, the victim’s heart twitches irregularly, stopping the flow of blood and oxygen throughout the body. SCA is fatal unless medical intervention is provided in a timely manner. The chain of Survival’s structure gives rescuers a protocol to follow, increasing the victim’s chance for survival. Each minute that passes between the onset of symptoms and intervention increases the victim’s chance of death by up to 10%.
There are five steps in the chain:
- Immediate recognition of cardiac arrest, call 911
- CPR with emphasis on chest compressions. Continue CPR until medics arrive
- Rapid defibrillation with an AED (this is necessary to restore a normal heartbeat) within minutes of the onset of symptoms
- Advanced life support, administered by trained medics
- Post-cardiac arrest care, administered in a hospital setting
Why Learn CPR/AED?
Cardiac arrests are more common, and they can happen to anyone at any time. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) uses chest compressions, which move blood from the heart to the brain and internal organs, as well as mouth-to-mouth ventilation, to provide the victim with oxygen. An automated external defibrillator (AED) device designed to walk bystanders through administering CPR and defibrillating the victim if needed.
Effective bystander CPR provided immediately during the sudden cardiac arrest can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. For this reason, doing CPR/AED certification course is extremely essential that can save the life of loved ones.
There are many things an adult should be aware of, and CPR, or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, is one of them. In fact, it has been found that the average 13 year is taught CPR procedures in high school or at gym, while many adults remain sadly unaware of how to administer it.
In many states in the United States of America, it has been made compulsory for children to learn CPR techniques at high school level so that by the time they graduate, they are well equipped with the skills to save a life should the need ever arise. However, adults fall into the category of the people who are more likely to require CPR. This is because adults are at a higher risk of heart attack as compared to younger children still in high school. Similarly, adults are also more likely to be around when someone else in their age group starts to suffer from a heart attack. Statistically, the chances of someone possessing a knowledge of CPR being around when another person in the vicinity begins to suffer from a heart attack is currently slightly over 1%, making it all the more necessary to learn these techniques.
One school in the United States of America has come up with an interesting technique to ensure that more and more people are familiar with the technique and know what to do when someone else suffers a heart attack in their presence. They teach their students CPR then make it compulsory for them to go home and teach someone else the technique as well. The more people the students educate, the more credits they get. It was found that on average each school student taught 2.5 others.
This “learn and teach” model is very effective since it makes young children take an active part in the learning process and gives them a sense of importance as well. It also makes them more receptive to the information passed on to them, since they know that they need to make sure that someone else knows it too. When you teach someone something, it is always the case that your own knowledge is refreshed and reinforced in a better manner, so that you learn better and are in a better position to answer questions.
For those parents who are not interested in learning CPR from their own, or someone else’s, children, it is still advisable to learn it from elsewhere as well. After all, most heart attacks happen when you least expect them to. When a heart attack happens, CPR is usually performed by other people less than 45% of the time, and that too is done by people who are not sure of what they are doing, so that the success rate is even lower. This makes it all the more necessary to learn the right procedures the right way.
If you are not interested in forking out the money to learn CPR professionally, it is advisable to purchase one of the several home instruction kits that cost less than 40$.
CPR or cardio pulmonary resuscitation is a very common and important method of first aid methodologies for saving a life if you found someone collapsed on floor unconscious. It is important to learn CPR because with only a very little effort you can save a life. Good Samaritan Law also supports the effort of saving someone’s life.
Measures are now taken across the United States to train as many people as possible for administering CPR. This leads to mandatory CPR training in every schools and few states in the country have already made it compulsory. Now it’s Minnesota on its way for legislating law for compulsory CPR training in schools. What made this legislation possible is the story of a woman Jamie LaLonde who survived heart attack.
While telling her story how she became a volunteer activist for mandatory CPR training and certification at schools she said” I remember getting ready for work, and that’s the last thing I remember,” while trying to memorize what happened the day she was victimized by cardiac arrest. “The rest people have told me about.”
Two year back she used to work at a clothing store in the Mall of America. She was about to leave for a break when she suddenly collapsed with a cardiac arrest. She told further that she caters young people on the store knew nothing what to do in such a situation. “They were all 16 to 18-years-old, and not one person around me knew what to do when I fell,” she told.
Within 5 minutes a mall’s security personnel sneaked into the shop and administered CPR. EMS team arrived and shocked her twice with AED and fortunately LaLonde survived. After spending two days in coma when she opened her eyes she had a new aim of life.
She was lucky that her voice reached many and soon she got support Senator Dan Hall (R-Burnsville). He said in the support of this movement turned into legislation “This would be a huge benefit for our society to have bystanders who are trained in CPR,”
Mr. Hall is now trying for the approval of LaLonde’s bill. He said ” We are asking for 30 minutes of CPR training for any child in Minnesota that goes through seventh grade through twelfth grade,”
Hall told that the bill was formulated by AHA (American Heart Association) and the American Red Cross and they will train kids at school voluntarily charging no money from the schools, he said “It’s a small thing for a huge benefit,”
LaLonde has recovered completely. Her aim is now to be a paramedic and going to college soon but she said she dreams of her bill becoming a law. “I really think it will make a huge difference, especially among the young people, It’s teaching young people how to save people.”
As different subjects like Science and Mathematics are taught in high schools so there must be some credit hours for CPR, it will be beneficial for the students. Having knowledge of CPR will enable them tackle with a cardiac emergency. Most of the heart attack cases occur outside or away from the hospitals in that case necessary first aid is in the form of CPR to the patient and a valuable life can be saved with this knowledge.
What’s worth mentioning in this regard is Texas lawmakers are concerned about it and two people namely Rep. John Zerwas and Sen. Juan Hinojosa, have a bill HB 897/SB 261 proposed to make it compulsory. With this action, a victim of cardiac arrest would have three times more chances of survival as every teen would know the usage of automated defibrillators.
Till now efforts are made, but these are done locally by non-government organizations like Living for Zachary a memorial organization established by Karen Sarah who lost her kid due to sudden cardiac arrest. They are trying to bring AED’s (automated external defibrillator) to schools and train students but due non-compulsory training only a few of them take part in the training sessions.
Arguments given by American Heart Association are really concrete, as they are key activists behind this legislation. We are mentioning a few of them.
- Maximum cardiac emergencies take place away from hospitals in which around 90% victims face death due insufficient use of CPR and AED.
- A 30 minutes training is enough and can be an additional skill for students, they will be able to survive in cardiac emergency situations.
- There is much flexibility in the implementation of CPR training, it could be easily fit in many classes for instance in the science class or PE or most suitably in the Health class for students between grades 7 to 12.
With this regulation approval, Texas will join five states which have already regulated this CPR skill training compulsory for all graduates. These states include Alabama, Iowa, Minnesota, Tennessee and Vermont.
Texas State’s advocacy member of AHA Dr. Amit Khera who is also the director of UT Southwestern Preventive cardiology program says” Many people are alive today due to bystanders of all ages who were trained in CPR and willing to administer the lifesaving technique until emergency medical personnel could take over. By enacting HB 897/SB 261, Texas can create an entire generation of young adults who are not only proficient in CPR but are prepared to step in and help in an emergency situation. This legislation would require a simple, one-time 30 minute course to be implemented prior to graduation and in turn will equip generations to come with the ability to save lives. An overwhelming 79% of Texans favor this training for high school students.”
You must be wondering what AED stands for. AED is automated external defibrillator which is a device used for giving first aid to heart patients.
Wikipedia defines the AED as:
“A portable electronic device that automatically diagnoses the potentially life threatening cardiac arrhythmia’s of ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia in a patient, and is able to treat them through defibrillation, the application of electrical therapy which stops the arrhythmia, allowing the heart to reestablish an effective rhythm.”
In simple words, it is a device that lets you monitor the heart rate of a patient and if necessary give electric shocks to the patient’s heart to stabilize it. Even though the device sounds technical, it is designed simply so even a layman can use it. AED training and certification is available during first aid workshops, first responder and basic life support and CPR training programs. An AED can be used is life threatening situations where the patient’s heart is working, but its heart rate pattern is fatal.
How does AED work?
Learning to use an AED is highly intuitive and astonishingly simple. Many people have reported that it is far easier than learning CPR. Current AED courses usually last about three to four hours, include hands-on practice and help increase user competence and confidence.
An AED can be used to shock a patient’s heart back into a normal beating pattern. It is important to bear in mind that an AED only complements manual CPR in life threatening situations.
The AED protocol has seven basic steps:
- Check unresponsiveness.
Establish that the patient is unresponsive or unconscious. You can try talking to the patient, moving things in front of his eyes to check whether his pupils follow, or even gently tap the patient’s face to see if he or she responds.
- Call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number (if applicable) and retrieve the AED.
Even if you have an AED with you, it’s important to notify EMS.
- Open the airway and check for breathing. If there is no breathing or breathing appears abnormal, give two slow breaths.
When the heart stops, even though there is no circulation, the victim may continue ineffective breathing motions. Ensure that the windpipe is straight and that there are no obstacles blocking the nostrils or the mouth. Also, there should be no pressure on the throat to allow for easy breathing.
- Check for a pulse. If there is no pulse, turn on the AED. A second rescuer should continue CPR until the AED is attached.
If there is no pulse, turn on the AED power. Press the “on” button or open the lid, depending on the device. If a second rescuer is available, he or she should continue CPR until the AED is attached.
- Attach the AED electrode pads.
Bare the victim’s chest and make sure it is dry. Remove the adhesive AED electrode pads from the package and attach them firmly to the chest, as illustrated on the package. It is very important to place pads correctly so that the electric current passes through the heart. One pad should be placed on the victim’s upper right chest, the other on the lower left chest. Thick chest hair should be removed prior to pad placement to ensure adequate contact.
- Analyze the heart rhythm. Make sure no one is touching the victim.
Some AEDs analyze the heart rhythm automatically. Other models prompt you to press the analyze button. Follow the AED’s prompt and call out, “Analyzing rhythm, stand clear!” or “I’m clear, you’re clear, we’re all clear!” or words to this effect. Make sure no one is touching the victim when the AED is analyzing.
If the AED indicates “shock advised” go to step 7.
If the AED indicates that the victim does not need to be shocked, check his or her pulse again. If there is no pulse, do CPR (ventilation and chest compression) for one minute, instruct onlookers to stand clear, and analyze again. Repeat this sequence of CPR and analysis every minute until help arrives.
- Press the “shock” button, if advised. Make sure no one is touching the victim.
If the AED determines that the victim does need to be shocked, it will prompt you to press the shock button. To ensure the safety of onlookers, make sure no one is touching the victim. Call out, “Shock indicated. Stand clear!” Or, say, “I’m clear, you’re clear, we’re all clear,” or words to this effect. Then, press the shock button. Sometimes, the victim will be revived after just one shock.
- After the first shock is delivered, immediately analyze again. If the AED advises that another shock is needed, press the shock button a second time.
- After the second shock is delivered, immediately analyze again. If the AED advises that another shock is needed, press the shock button a third time.
- After three shocks, if the victim still has no pulse, do CPR (ventilation and chest compression) for one minute.
Then, if there still is no pulse, give additional sets of three quick shocks, interspersed with one minute of CPR, until the AED prompts that no shock is indicated.
Note: The AED will deliver appropriate energy levels for each shock. Continue cycles of one minute of CPR followed by heart rhythm analysis and appropriate shocks until advanced help arrives.
The most important thing to remember when using an AED is to confirm that the victim is unresponsive, not breathing normally and pulseless. For all such victims in confirmed cardiac arrest, turn on the power, analyze, and the AED will coach you through the rest of the steps with visual and/or audio prompts. There is no need to be anxious. Even if you get flustered, as people often do in emergencies, the AED will be your guide.
Sources: Wikipedia, early-defib.org
There are little things in life that really restore your faith in humanity – and CPR. A little help from someone at the right time can save a life. If you don’t believe it, you’re in for a surprise! What we’re about to tell you is a story that won’t only motivate you to learn CPR but realize the importance of lending a helpful hand when you can.
This is the story of Joyce Gregory, 60, who was driving a metro bus one day when she felt her heart rate become abnormal. She did the first thing a human’s instinct told her to do. She cried for help. The bus driver, Debby Kerr, had just stepped off the bus for a few moments when she heard the cries of “I need help. My heart. My heart,” issuing from inside the bus. She rushed inside to find a regular rider, a mentally challenged man, supporting a semi-unconscious Joyce and preventing her from falling into the aisle.
Debby Kerr didn’t freeze on the spot or lose her senses. She remained calm and urgently contacted her dispatcher and informed them of the situation. The dispatcher was told to get medical aid immediately. But looking at Joyce, Kerr knew that time was running out. “Her eyes were already rolling back and her head was dropping. I knew this lady was in trouble right then and there,” Kerr recalls. She remembered that Coach Operator Donna Wright would be arriving shortly on her bus route and she dispatched an oncoming passenger to summon Wright.
Upon the arrival of Donne Wright, both her and Debby Kerr tried to revive Joyce. Kerr had not had a CPR class in 25 years and she had never practiced CPR on a real person, let alone in a pressure situation. Wright had received CPR certification four years earlier and it was her first time with a hands-on experience as well.
“I remember thinking, ‘Jesus, if you’re ever going to answer a prayer, I need your help right now,’” Kerr was praying. Both bus drivers continued their efforts of reviving Joyce but to no avail. Joyce seemed unresponsive. Soon emergency personnel arrived and took over the reviving efforts. They transported Gregory to Bronson Methodist Hospital.
“I just kept thinking, ‘My God, I’m the last one she looked at and spoke to,’” Kerr recalled. “I’m an emotional person and we were under the impression she didn’t make it. I went through the whole weekend praying.”
Obviously, the whole incident had both the bus drivers emotionally attached to Joyce’s outcome and they were eager to hear good news, though their hopes weren’t very high. “It was really disheartening to think that she had passed away that close to the holidays,” Wright added.
The following Monday, Metro Transit attempted to find out the woman’s name, and know where the agency could direct its condolences. Transit director Bill Schomisch found out that she was very much alive, in the hospital, scheduled for surgery. Kerr and Wright were very relieved at the news and shared the credit for helping give emergency aid to a rider in need.
The Oshtemo first-responders on the scene also took the time to make sure the two drivers had not been shaken or traumatised by the experience. But both Kerr and Wright admitted that they were happy to have served someone and been of some help. “The good Lord was looking after all of us; He had His hand right there,” said Wright. Kerr added, “Something good came the end of that day. We weren’t alone in that bus. I feel very blessed.”
Joyce Gregory, who loves poetry, singing and making people laugh, is recovering from triple-bypass surgery, according to her sister Michelle Gipson. They are among 14 siblings. The family plans to have Kerr and Wright to dinner and some hot-tub time. What’s more? All three of them: Gipson, Wright and Kerr are planning to continue their CPR classes because you never know – a stitch in time saves nine!