According to the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada, up to 40,000 cardiac arrests occur each year in Canada. That is one cardiac arrest every 12 minutes. Without rapid and appropriate treatment, most of these cardiac arrests will result in death.Early CPR combined with early defibrillation can increase survival rates for cardiac arrest victims by up to 75%, according to the Heart and Stroke Foundation. However, current survival rates are low because most people don’t know CPR or how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)—a small, easy-to-use device with voice prompts that can tell when a heart stops beating effectively and can deliver an electric shock to help restart the heart.
With most out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occurring in homes or public places, early recognition of a cardiac emergency, early access to medical help (calling 9-1-1), early citizen CPR, and early defibrillation are critical to saving lives. The High School CPR and Defibrillator Program empowers youth with these lifesaving skills so they know how to react in an emergency.
Hearts stop for many reasons, not just because of heart problems. People who drown or choke, for example, have cardiac arrests, but for different reasons—they can’t breathe and therefore oxygen can’t get into their lungs and into their bloodstream. The brain stops working and soon they are unconscious. Other organs like the heart start to fail. Likewise, people who are badly injured and bleeding may “bleed to death” when they lose too much blood and there is no way oxygen can be delivered to various organs.CPR helps maintain the circulation and oxygen delivery in any of these situations. By breathing for those people and pumping their hearts, the person doing CPR tries to keep them alive until paramedics arrive.
At the emergency department of the hospital, doctors will examine the person and may do special tests. If there is an important problem, the person may stay in the hospital. But sometimes the problem is not caused by a heart problem and the person may get sent home.Did you make a mistake? No! It is OK to be wrong in this situation. Even doctors can’t tell without tests. Doctors will say you did the right thing and no one should make you feel stupid. Do the same thing next time.
Trust your judgment. If you believe there is a problem, there very often is! If the chest pain continues and if you are seeing some of the 5 Ps of chest pain (pain, pale skin, puffing, pooped, puking), there probably is something wrong. Talk to the person with pain and explain why you are concerned. Talk to others around you who might help the person decide to seek help. But finally, remember that denial is common when people have heart attacks. If you think there is a problem, take charge and insist on getting medical help. Call 911. Recognize and React to avoid having to Resuscitate.
Like anywhere else, stand up and say to yourself, “I’ve been trained. I can do this.” And then do it!
Sometimes when people collapse, they hurt their neck. If you suspect either a head or neck injury, you must protect the head and neck from movement when performing CPR so as to prevent further injury to the neck.You should suspect a neck injury when the collapsed person has:
- A head injury;
- Fallen from a height or down stairs;
- Been in a motor vehicle collision;
- Bleeding from the mouth, ears, nose;
- Swelling along the neck or spine.
Yes, you do.Even if the person has sutures, staples, or a zipper in the middle of their chest suggesting recent open heart surgery, if they are not responsive and not breathing (or there is only an occasional gasp of air) they need CPR to give them the best chance of survival.
Yes! What you are seeing is what doctors call “agonal respirations.” These reflex gasping breaths are not adequate to provide enough oxygen to the person. Don’t be confused. They are not a sign of circulation. Perform CPR.
Yes. Even performed properly CPR can break some ribs, especially in older people whose bones are more brittle. Remember though, if a person’s heart has stopped, he or she is basically dead at this point and has little to lose. Broken ribs may slow a person’s recovery, but only slightly. And remember, we ARE talking about recovery. Without CPR, we would not be.
Move the person away from the water. Dry the chest before applying the pads. Yes, even wipe away the vomit if you have to. It is OK to use the AED if the floor is wet or if the patient is lying on snow. Just make sure you dry off the chest before trying to stick the pads on.
Yes. Use the AED as you would for anyone.
Some AEDs have a child switch and child pads to apply. If the person is between the ages of 1 and 8 and the AED has a child switch and child pads, use them. If not, it is OK for you to use the normal adult pads on a child between the ages of 1 and 8. For babies less than 1 year old, just do CPR until help arrives.
Don’t stick the AED pads over the skin patch. Either place the pads to one side or remove the patch and wipe the skin clean before applying the electrode pads.
When you expose the chest, you might see a scar and lump, usually on the left side of the chest. Place the AED pads 2-3 cm away from that.
Press firmly on the pads to make sure they are stuck to the chest properly. If you had previously dried the chest because it was wet, dry it and try again. If the chest is hairy, is there a way to quickly shave the hair or move the pads a bit to a better area? If there is any delay, keep doing CPR. Is there a second set of pads with the AED?