“Is CPR really that important? Can’t we just call 9-1-1? It only takes a couple of minutes for the paramedics to get there, right?”
Every year, more than 350,000 Americans experience sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), when the heart stops beating without any warning. In those horrific moments before paramedics arrive, there's no blood circulating in the body to deliver oxygen to the brain and other organs; death is just minutes away. As a matter of fact, 90% of these people will die. SCA doesn’t discriminate either…race, gender, age, size…none of that matters. But if the event is witnessed and a bystander begins CPR, the chance of survival increases by as much as 47%. Since brain damage can occur in as little as 4-6 minutes, CPR is the best way to move the oxygenated blood through the body until EMS arrives. And sometimes, especially in a remote area, that could take 7-10 minutes.
“Why do I need to use an AED? I really don’t want to shock someone.”
While beginning chest compressions as quickly as possible increases the chance of survival, that is not the only thing that needs to happen. A person in sudden cardiac arrest needs their heart to return to a regular rhythm. Following the audible instructions from the AED to place the pads on the chest, the device will analyze the heart rhythm and determine if, in fact, a shock is necessary. Many AEDS are fully automatic, so once you place the pads, it will deliver the shock, taking away the fear of causing harm. After the shock is delivered, you may be instructed to resume CPR. This will go back and forth every two minutes as the device performs its analysis.
“Okay, but I’m probably never going to be in a situation where I have to give CPR."
Imagine this: You are in a restaurant, seated at a table near the bar and there is a woman standing there placing an order. While she waits, she suddenly falls to the ground. She doesn’t get up, so you move from your chair and turn her over on her back. She is gasping for breath. You yell out to anyone who is listening, “CALL 9-1-1!!” Then, she takes her last breath. Immediately, you begin to give chest compressions. It seems like forever, but someone brings an AED. They turn it on and attach the pads, working around you while you are still doing compressions. The device tells you to stand clear, it analyzes and delivers a shock. Nothing happens, so you begin compressions again. The paramedics arrive, it has been 5 minutes. They take over and you watch them deliver another shock. “There’s a pulse!”, they say. She’s alive!
A scenario such as this could happen anywhere…at a restaurant, at the grocery store, at your child’s baseball game. It could even happen in your own home or at your neighbor’s house. This particular scenario is a true story. It’s my story. It happened to me nearly 18 months ago. I was the one lying on the floor, clinically dead for nearly 5 minutes. CPR saved my life! There was actually no AED present that day; only chest compressions until the paramedics arrived. They used their equipment to analyze and deliver the shock that restarted my heart.
I challenge you today…be the difference. If you aren’t already certified, take a CPR class. Know how to use an AED. And then it’s okay to hope you never have to use it. But at least you’ll be prepared.
Watch Stephanie's survival story HERE!