Four. The magic number that could save a life.
The good news is that many of these casualties can respond to the right treatment within the right timeframe. Is your workplace set up so that your staff have a fighting chance at survival?
The importance of four
The Cardiac Chain of Survival2 is the four independent actions that need to be met in order for a cardiac arrest sufferer to survive the incident:
- Early access and activation of emergency medical services
- Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)
- Early defibrillation
- Early advanced care
While support for automated external defibrillators (AED) in workplaces and public areas like shopping centres, train stations, schools, airports and sporting venues is increasing, there’s still a lot to do to educate Australians of the difference widespread access could make to saving lives.1
A revealing study of cardiac arrest incidents at two Melbourne public areas, the MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) and the Shrine of Remembrance, showed that 86 per cent of the 28 casualties left the venue alive after defibrillation treatment while awaiting emergency service arrival. The average survival rate in Australia is around 3 per cent.3
Research also shows that to increase the chance of survival, defibrillation should be administered within four minutes of the collapse occurring. 4 This is because when a cardiac arrest occurs, the heart rhythm becomes irregular, quivering or fibrillating instead of pumping blood. Without a supply of blood bringing oxygen to the brain, irreversible cell damage begins within four to six minutes after the onset of an arrest. An AED can effectively ‘shock’ the heart into resuming a normal rhythm, buying invaluable time until emergency services reach you – which in Australia can be an average of 10-12 minutes in metro areas. 4 Without intervention during this time, the chances of survival are almost nil.4
Take the four minute test
An AED for your workplace is a smart and worthwhile investment, but is every staff member within four minutes of this lifesaving piece of equipment?
Take the four minute test to determine how many AEDs you’ll need to adequately protect your site. Think of an AED like a fire extinguisher – it needs to be easily located and ready to go in the event of an emergency.
Ease of use
Don’t let the ‘fear factor’ put you off considering an AED. Although training is recommended, you can use one with little or no experience. The technology within an AED registers the patient’s heartbeat and will only administer a shock if it detects that one is necessary. Most units will provide the operator with step-by-step voice commands on what to do, and has other features that maximise the safety of both the patient and the operator. When purchasing, the manufacturer can also discuss training and maintenance of the equipment with you, if required.
When choosing an AED for your workplace, it’s important to carefully consider the other areas of the Cardiac Chain of Survival also, to implement a program that gives your people the best chance of survival. To develop a complete action plan on preparing for cardiac emergencies, make sure you visit the Heart Foundation website.
This article provides general information, and is not intended to provide personalised legal or medical advice; please consult with your own advisor and review local/state/federal regulatory guidelines and requirements if you have any questions.
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