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First Aid Cardiac Arrest

Chest Pain infographic

Cardiac Arrest Early Intervention For Survival

What is CPR for Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is a life-saving technique crucial in many emergencies, such as a heart attack or near drowning, in which someone’s breathing or heartbeat, or both, has stopped. 

Cardiopulmonary means the heart and lungs and the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide that takes place with every breath inhaled and exhaled. The average breathing rate for an adult at rest can be anywhere between 12 to 20 breaths per minute. A respiratory rate under 12 or over 25 breaths per minute while resting is considered abnormal, and medical advice should be sought.

One exception to a lowered breathing and heart rate can be found in exceptionally cardio fit people, like marathon runners and iron men, cross trainers, and military personnel. 

Resuscitation means the act of bringing a living entity back from apparent death or unconsciousness. When combined, rescue breathing (mouth-to-mouth) and chest compressions become the act of providing CPR in a specific ratio and to a set rhythm.

The Bee Gee’s song: Stayin’ Alive is the perfect beat and allows the oxygen in the blood to be circulated, and gases exchanged throughout the body in a person at a set rate over a sustained period by the person giving CPR.

What is the treatment for Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is the predominantly applied emergency procedure that is given to anyone who has had a sudden cardiac arrest. Defibrillation using an automated external defibrillator, AED is another option for trying to get your heart pumping blood again by using electric shocks. 

If your heart stops beating, you are having a heart attack, or cardiac arrest. If you survive a cardiac arrest occurring, your doctor will investigate what caused the initial heart attack and then implement treatment plans tailored specifically for you-this could include medications, lifestyle changes or exercise routines in order to prevent any increased risk factors of heart disease, chest pain, cardiac arrests, coronary artery disease, heart failure or any heart problems. ECG monitoring will establish if your heart’s electrical system is functioning correctly and that you do not have ventricular fibrillation and electrical activity interruptions to your AV Node. 

What Are Chest Compressions?

Chest compressions describe the act of pushing down on the chest, deep enough that you allow the heart valves to open up and push blood through the heart. The heart is a one-way system. The blood is pushed out of the heart and towards the brain when you push down. When you release, the valve closes and locks the blood in place until you push down again. Think of the blood moving through the arteries as a little car. The faster you compress and release, the faster the car gets around the body and back to the heart for fresh oxygen. Compressions act as an external heartbeat for the person you are giving CPR to. If you stop externally beating their heart for them, the blood cannot move through the body and keep the brain alive, so when the brain dies, the other organs shut down, and the person dies.

When can Cardiac Resuscitation Can Be Abandoned?

The general approach is to stop CPR after 20 minutes if no viable cardiac rhythm is re-established. However, if a single person is giving CPR without relief, then as long as the person can physically provide CPR without endangering their own life (if they are not fit enough to last twenty minutes). Not many people could reasonably provide solo CPR for twenty continuous minutes at the ideal 100-120 beats per minute ratio. A two (or more) person team can and is expected to put in a minimum twenty minutes of CPR or more until an ambulance arrives where possible. Take it in turns to move through the positions of giving mouth-to-mouth and providing chest compressions in the 30:2 ratio. Two (2) puffs of air and thirty (30) chest compressions, then repeat the cycle continuously.

Chest compressions are the highest priority when giving CPR. If, for some reason, you cannot provide rescue breathing (mouth-to-mouth), chest compressions alone may still be life-saving in the short term. 

CPR is a life-saving skill that everyone should learn. FirstAidPro is an accredited Australian leader providing training and educating people in First Aid. Courses are available online and face-to-face.

CPR works on the principle of 30 chest compressions and 2 breaths of rescue breathing. This is known as the 30:2 ratio.

Automated external defibrillators (AEDs) can be used by anyone in an emergency and are easy to use. Voice prompts guide you through what to do.

DRSABCD is the acronym for the steps involved in giving CPR and stands for:

  • Danger, Response, Send/Safety, Airway, Breathing, CPR, Defibrillation.

What is a Defibrillator Machine: AED

Automated external defibrillators are a device that, when correctly placed by following the automated instructions, can deliver a jolt of electrical current to the heart, often—but not always—restarting the heart beating. You might have heard it referred to in medical jargon or TV dramas as a Defib Machine.

What is my duty of care to give CPR?

Duty to Rescue

A question often asked is whether laypersons, by-standers, first-responders, and healthcare personnel off-duty have a duty to assist (rescue) a person in need of emergency care. Put another way “when does a first aider have a duty of care to provide first aid“.

While ‘Good Samaritans’ and ‘Volunteers’ have no duty of care to rescue, many differences in legislation exist between jurisdictions that provide protection for ‘Good Samaritans’ and Volunteers when they do assist a person in need of emergency care. Medical practitioners are subject to legal, ethical, and professional principles.

Currently, only the Northern Territory has legislation in place that requires any person abled-bodied and capable the duty to rescue any person who requires assistance. In that jurisdiction, any person who callously fails to provide rescue, resuscitation, medical treatment, first aid or assistance of any kind to a person urgently in need of it and whose life may be endangered is guilty of a crime and is liable to imprisonment for seven years (Criminal Code Act 2014, s155).

A ‘Good Samaritan’ is defined in legislation as a person acting in an altruistic manner without expecting financial or other rewards for providing assistance. ANZCOR encourages rescue, but rescuers should be aware of dangers to themselves. When deciding to assist, a rescuer is expected to display a standard of care appropriate to their training (or lack of training). Rescuers need not fear litigation if they come to the aid of a fellow human in need. No ‘Good Samaritan’ or Volunteer in Australia has ever been successfully sued for consequences of rendering assistance to a person in need.

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