Sudden Cardiac Arrest – AED’s Can Help Save Lives

In the United States approximately 1,000 people suffer Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) daily.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest occurs when the heart unexpectedly and suddenly stops its normal
beating rhythm. An abnormality in the heart’s electrical system is the cause and makes the
heart twitch rapidly and uncontrollably. At this point ventricular fibrillation occurs which
renders the heart unable to pump blood to the brain and body.
A victim of SCA can be recognized by symptoms of unresponsiveness, loss of
consciousness, lack of breathing, and no pulse can be detected. Frequently the victim is
suffering from a heart rhythm disorder called ventricular fibrillation (VF). VF can happen
to anyone – regardless of whether they appear healthy or not. When VF occurs the victim
needs Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation (an electric shock to adjust
the heart’s rhythm) as soon as is possible.
Every minute delayed lessens the victim’s survival rate by 10%. Immediate and proper
treatment can dramatically increase the victim’s chances. Trained personnel can provide
defibrillation using what is known as an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). The
AED can determine if the victim needs defibrillation, provide steps to follow was well as
showing pictures to guide someone through the proper procedure. Some AED’s can even
coach you through CPR.
Early and proper defibrillation has a better success rate for sudden cardiac arrest victims
than CPR alone, with survival rates seen up to 70%. An AED program would be a great
asset as a supplement to a company’s existing, First Aid program. The Food and Drug
Administration requires the process of obtaining a prescription from a licensed physician
before the AED unit is added to an existing program and put into use. The physician’s
responsibilities include establishing appropriate policies and procedures for the use of this
critical life-saving device. Each state has its own specific requirements, so it is important to
maintain a working relationship with your AED supplier, physician or local American Heart
Association / American Red Cross chapter to discuss details.
Programs implementing the use of AED’s usually include the following topics:
• Periodic training and evaluation of personnel on AED use, First Aid and CPR
• Maintenance and periodic testing of the AED according to manufacturer guidelines
• Notification of the local EMS service that your program utilizes an AED and meeting
EMS requirements
• When emergency care is rendered, to activate the EMS system
• Blood borne Pathogen training may also be required
Determine if your facility has one or more AED’s. If so, locate the units and volunteer for
training. You just might save a life in an emergency if you know when and how to use an AED.