Responding to cardiac arrest!


Q. Do you have what it takes to respond to a cardiac arrest?
A. Yes you do.

Even if you have never done a life support course (or done it so long ago you dont feel confident you can remember what to do).

You are at a shopping centre, or backing your caravan into a rest spot, or walking up the hill to a lookout. Wherever. Whenever.
Suddenly the man off to your right collapses to the ground in cardiac arrest.

How to respond:

Make sure you are safe. Look around for any danger to yourself.

Check for a response. “Hey, mister!” Give them a gentle but firm shake.
They may be unresponsive and not moving, or they may be unresponsive but making gasping sounds with their mouth or moving their limbs randomly without purpose.

To get an idea of what a person actually looks like in cardiac arrest Here is a link to a BBC documentary where a paramedic develops chest pain and then has a cardiac arrest in front of his colleagues.

Send for help. You need paramedics now. Call them or better still get someone else to call them.
If there is an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) close by, you need to use it now. This is similar to the device you see used by paramedics in the video.

If they ARE responding (talking, making purposeful movements) you do NOT need to begin chest compressions.

If unresponsive. Start external cardiac compressions.

  1. Get down on your knees besides them.
  2. Put the heel of your dominant hand in the centre of their chest.
  3. Put the heel of your other hand on top of it. Keep your arms straight.
  4. Push and release to the tune of Row Row Row your boat (or Stay’in Alive).
  5. Push hard. Release all the way. But don’t take the heal of your hand off the chest. Let your entire upper body weight do the work, don’t push from the elbows.
  6. Don’t stop. Don’t worry about ‘mouth to mouth’ breathing.
  7. When you get tired swap quickly over to someone else.

Its so simple a kid could do it. Watch this:

In summary:

Just do it.
Get medical help immediately.
If there is an Automated External Defibrillator at hand you need to get it, open it, (try not to stop giving compressions) and follow the instructions inside (don’t hesitate….AED’s are built to be used by people who have never used one before).
In most instances it is using an AED to defibrillate that will actually save the life of a person in cardiac arrest.
AED’s all look slightly different depending on the model and brand, but there will be a sign close by that looks like the sign below. Its good practice to start to notice them when you are out in public spaces. There are lots of them around in airports, shopping malls, gyms etc.

Example of AED sign. Start noticing them when you are in public places.

One response to “Responding to cardiac arrest!”

  1. Excellent. I saw that bbc video re live cardiac arrest too. Have been present for a cardiac arrest at the end of a fun run a 24 yr old. Lucky for him many runners ed nurses. We did cpr for 15 mins until help came. He survived. Very very scarey doing it in the middle of an oval i can tell u . Especially when as a ward nurse u just press a bell and u have o2 and suction at hand.


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