Would you know what to do if someone collapsed from possible cardiac arrest right in front of you?
Would you be too afraid to act?
Statistics show that immediate help can mean the difference between life and death for a cardiac arrest victim.
Doing hands-only CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and using an automated external defibrillator (AED) can more than double the victim’s chance of survival, according to the American Heart Association. In fact, for every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation, the victim’s chances of survival decrease by 7–10 percent.
“We tell people it’s better to do something than nothing,” said Jim Sideras, Sioux Falls Fire Rescue Chief. “If you do nothing the person could die, but if you take action with a defibrillator that’s going to make a difference.”
Sideras estimates that someone uses an AED in Sioux Falls about once a month. The youngest person to date was a high school student; the oldest was 91 years old.
Avera has one of the largest public access defibrillator programs in the United States and has partnered with organizations such as Sioux Falls Fire Rescue to get more AEDs into buildings throughout our communities. Currently, there are over 2,000 AEDs located in churches, schools and businesses throughout the Sioux Falls service area.
While you may have walked passed the box many times in your workplace, church or fitness center, chances are you’ve never had to use it.
Kym Osterberg, RN, Education Coordinator at Avera Heart Hospital, said defibrillators make it easy to help in an emergency.
“AEDs today prompt you every step of the way with directions,” Osterberg said. “They’ll tell you if a shock is advised, help you know where to place the pads and when to not touch the victim. The most important thing is to act and get the person’s heart beating again.”
Here are a few other tips:
- Remember to not touch the victim when the AED prompts you not to.
- If a person collapses outside in the snow or rain, it’s OK. Just be sure to dry off the area on the chest where the pads go.
- You may not know that hair can sometimes interfere with the shock. There is actually a razor in the AED box for quick hair removal. If the AED says, “Check pad placement,” press on the pads to help them adhere to the chest better. If the AED still says, “Check pad placement,” there should be a second set of pads in the box. Remove the first pair and use the second pair after removing the hair.
- Nicotine patches or other medical patches should be removed before using an AED. Just wipe the area down where the patch was before applying the AED pads.
- If you see a lump near the upper chest area, it could be a pacemaker. Be sure not to put the pads on the pacemaker.
In between charges, do hands-only CPR, which includes compressing the chest 100-120 beats per minute. One suggestion is to do hands-only CPR to the beat of the song, “Stayin’ Alive.” If you’d like to become certified in hands-only CPR, contact the American Heart Association or HeartStarters to find a class in your area.
Watch this video for a step-by-step process on how to use an AED.