Being ready to buy time
The first three steps in the out-of-hospital cardiac arrest Chain of Survival require a witness to step in and help, before Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arrive.
What happens next is often the difference between life and death. The sooner EMS is called, high-quality CPR is commenced, and defibrillation is applied, the better a patient’s chance of survival.
The importance of being ready to help in an emergency is increased for people living in regional and rural areas, <where ambulance need more time> to arrive.
RELATED ARTICLE: Are you ready to help?
It could be you who needs to help if a family member, friend, colleague or stranger has a cardiac arrest.
When that happens, they will fall, be unresponsive, and won’t be breathing normally. Otherwise known as “agonal respirations”, their breathing will be laboured, and could sound like gasping or snorting.
It will happen unexpectedly. It can also happen to anyone, any time.
If you’re prepared for this moment, the chances of the patient surviving will be much higher.
Your objective is to buy time. Here are three things you can do now, to be ready when the moment comes for you to save a life.
Become CPR aware
Ideally, everyone would take the time to become CPR certified, and to maintain their training every year. If you’re one of those people – brilliant.
Being ready to buy time
If you’re new to CPR – or cardiopulmonary resuscitation – there are things you can do right now to start learning this lifesaving skill.
Organisations like CPRfriendly.org.au are dedicated to improving CPR awareness. They offer free online courses ranging from quick three-minute introductions to more detailed trainers, helping people like you become familiar with CPR.
Find out where your nearest AEDs are
An AED (automated external defibrillator) is the real star of the show when it comes to saving someone from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
After the pads of an AED are applied to the bare chest of someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest, it will automatically detect if an electrical shock is required to help the heart resume its normal rhythmic beat.
CPR applied in the first few minutes following a cardiac arrest will buy time for an AED to be applied. An AED will buy more time again for an ambulance to arrive, and for the patient to have a chance at survival.
RELATED ARTICLE: How to find an AED when you need one
The location of public access defibrillators is usually signalled with a sign showing a heart intersected by a lighting bolt shape.
While AED design is currently undergoing a quantum leap to improve ease-of-use, EMS call operators should be able to talk you through how to use one in an emergency.
Have the conversation
Four out of every five out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in homes or residences. The remainder happen in public places, including places of work.
The first step to being prepared for an emergency, is discussing the risks with friends, family and colleagues.
The positive impact of cardiac emergency response plans for business and schools has been well documented.
Doing something similar for your home, particularly if you live with or know someone who is at-risk of a heart-related illness, makes sense.
…and if you’re really keen:
The height of community preparedness to respond quickly to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, is to become a HeartSafe, or Heart Smart community.
The Internet is awash with resources like this one, helping communities come together and establish the local skills and infrastructure needed to become HeartSafe.