CARDIAC ARREST

Do you know the signs?

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Cardiac Arrests are different from Heart Attacks.  Someone in Cardiac Arrest will be unconscious and not breathing, where as someone having a heart attack will be conscious.

A Cardiac Arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood around the body, often because of a problem with the electrical signals to the heart muscle. Someone who is having a cardiac arrest will suddenly collapse and will stop breathing.

Symptoms of a cardiac arrest are:

  • Unconscious

  • Unresponsive

  • Not breathing or not breathing normally.

  • 40% of out of hospital cardiac arrests will have 'Agonal breaths'. For an example, see here (family friendly link)

Cardiac Arrest is a medical emergency - DIAL 999 IMMEDIATELY

 

​What to do if you suspect someone is having a cardiac arrest

On your own:

  • Check airway is not blocked

  • Shout really loud for people nearby to help you.

  • DIAL 999 IMMEDIATELY (leave patient if you have to find a phone) - it is critical an ambulance is on it's way before starting CPR.

  • Return to patient and Begin CPR, if the phone is near the patient, the 999 Dispatcher will guide you through this till an Ambulance or First Responder arrives.

  • When an Ambulance/First Responder arrives, continue to do CPR until they relieve you.  They will use the opportunity to get equipment set up, then they will take over CPR from you.

With someone

  • Check airway is not blocked

  • DIAL 999 IMMEDIATELY; after dialling 999, if the person knows where an AED/PAD is located, or the 999 dispatcher tells them where there is one, go get it and return to the patient quickly. Leave the phone on loud speak with the person doing CPR. (Alness Public Defibrillator locations)

  • The other person should begin CPR immediately  if the phone is near the patient, the 999 Dispatcher will support you through this till an Ambulance or First Responder arrives. 

  • If someone returns with a AED/Defib, open it, turn it on, and follow the instructions, do not stop CPR while doing this.  Once turned on, follow the audio/visual instructions of the AED.  They are simple and clear and will talk you through what to do. DON'T STOP CPR UNTIL THE AED/PAD TELLS YOU TO.

  • If your getting tired, swap with other people

  • When an Ambulance/First Responder arrives, continue to do CPR until they relieve you.  They will use the opportunity to get equipment set up, then they will take over CPR from you.

Things to know:

  • You cannot make the situation worse, but you could make it better. So be the one to say "I'll do it!"

  • Perform CPR on a hard surface, the floor being the best place.

  • Sometimes the AED/PAD will say ' No shock advised', in that case continue CPR if patient is still not breathing.

  • Tilting the head back will open the airway and could be all that is required,  This step should not be overlooked as it can save the persons life.

  • It's not uncommon for ribs to break, especially in older patients.  Keep doing CPR.  Ribs will heal.

  • If the patients begins to breath on their own, Leave them laying down and monitor them constantly, the patient still has a significant chance of going back into Cardiac Arrest. Check their airway and that they are breathing, regularly, every 30 seconds at most.

  • Where possible, ensure any doors are open so Ambulance/First Responders can get to you without delay. If possible, have someone outside to flag them down.