A sudden cardiac Arrest is an event where the heart stops beating. Often there are few symptoms or warning signs before the patient loses consciousness. When this happens, blood isn’t flowing to the brain and other vital organs, which can result in death within minutes. In the event of SCA, it is crucial to be able to begin CPR and use an automated external defibrillator AED as soon as possible.  

12 minutes away from life or death 

Did you know that 1 Canadian every 12 minutes experiences SCA? 
cpr and aed save lives

The prompt use of CPR and an AED can be the difference between life or death in these cardiac events. CPR should, and an AED should be used within the first 1-12 minutes of an episode of SCA. When CPR and AED has been performed within the first 1-4 minutes, the survival rate is as high as 65% or more. For each minute that goes by, and emergency procedures haven’t started, the rate of survival decreases by 10%.

Signs & Symptoms of SCA

In many cases, patients report feeling no physical warning signs before the dizziness they will experience before they go unconscious. 

Some common symptoms can include an accelerated heart rate, dizziness, nausea, shortness of breath, typically within the first hour or less leading up to an event of SCA. 

How Can You Help?

If you suspect someone has experiences SCA, it is crucial to take action immediately. Always ensure your safety before assisting the patient, if it is not, call 9-1-1 from a safe location nearby.

how to use an aed using an aed aed in use
AED Being Used

Using an AED

Assign someone to call 9-1-1 and retrieve an AED if you can. If you are alone, call 9-1-1 and stay on the line with them, retrieve an AED if one is nearby. 

Check for signs of responsiveness and breathing.

If the person’s n appears unconscious, Tap them on the shoulder and ask, “Are you OK?” Listen for sounds of them breathing. If they are not responding or breathing, proceed with CPR.

When you call 9-1-1, remain on the line with them until EMS arrives. They will help you perform CPR and any other emergency procedures you may be able to do to sustain the patient until paramedics reach the scene.

Bystanders who are not First Aid certified save up to over 30 000 lives a year performing CPR and using AEDs. 

Use the AED 

Portable AEDs like the ones you see in public are designed to be incredibly user-friendly. It will have clear easy to follow instructions, and many of them provide real-time prompts and feedback to ensure the most accurate delivery of CPR possible. 

Turn on and attach all components if necessary. 

Remove clothing from the person’s chest and place pads according to instructions. 

Ensure no one, including you, is touching the patient. 

Push analyze. 

The AED detects if the person’s heart has stopped beating entirely or if it is irregular in another way. If no heartbeat is detected, the AED will prompt you to proceed. 

Push Shock 

If the AED as indicated to push the shock button.

If it does detect a heartbeat, the AED will not administer a shock, even if the shock button gets pressed. 

How To Perform CPR 

CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) is a manual emergency rescue procedure. CPR uses repetitive force to press on the chest and breathe into the patients’ airways (rescue breaths) to keep blood and oxygen flowing to the brain until a defibrillator is used.

how to perform cpr
Free CPR Infographic – Save & Share to Save a Life

CPR Compressions 

When performing chest compressions, it is essential to keep your arms straight and use force. You want to be able to press their chest down and have it rise again. If you used an AED, the pads allow the device to be able to measure, monitor and prompt you through performing CPR Compressions. Most AEDs have audio and or visual prompts to be able to help maintain optimal compression rate and depth. 

Compressions are done at a rate of 100-120 per minute. 

If you are trained and will be performing rescue breaths, start with 30 compressions then administer 2 breaths. 

  1. Position. Interlock fingers, Center Of Patients Chest.
  2. Interlock your fingers, place the heel of your hand on the center of their chest. Keep your arms straight, your fingers raised, so they do not touch the patient. 
  3. Give Compressions. Use your body weight to press down onto the patient, lowering their chest 1-2 inches, and then releasing the pressure (while keeping position) to allow the chest to rise, and repeating. 

Rescue Breaths

  1. Open Airways
  2. Make sure the head is tilted, and chin lifted slightly. 
  3. Pinch the nostrils closed with one hand, and support the chin with the other.
  4. Take a normal breath and place your mouth over theirs, making sure it is sealed, so no air gets out. 
  5. Blow into the person’s mouth to make the chest rise, watch it fall. Deliver 2 rescue breaths and then continue with compressions. 

You only perform rescue breaths if you are or have been adequately trained on the technique and are confident in your ability to do so.

You do not need to be First Aid/CPR certified to be able to perform CPR in an emergency. It is a good idea that everyone gets First Aid/CPR certified at some time in their life. Being certified gives you the knowledge and confidence necessary to be able to take action in an emergency. You will learn valuable information that could help you save your friends family or even your own life one day.