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Cardiac arrest is a fatal medical problem that must be dealt with immediately in order to save a life. Emergency help is required in order to ensure that the victim remains alive before an ambulance arrives at the scene.

Cardiac Arrest Symptoms

    • Instant loss of responsiveness whereby the victim shows no signs of responding when you tap his or her shoulders.  Even if you ask the victim any question there is no response.
    • Lack of normal breathing whereby the patient fails to take normal breath when the head is tilted up. You need to check this for five seconds and if the breathing does not normalize, call for emergency assistance.
emergency help

Dealing with cardiac arrest

Providing Emergency Help

If the above signs are recognized, you need to call for emergency help immediately to avoid death. The most effective way is to call 911 for emergency services.  If you are trained to use an automated external defibrillator or AED, use it immediately to help send electric shock to the heart of the victim to allow the heart to function. At the same time you should also begin conducting CPR immediately and continue until an emergency service provider arrives. If there is another person who is present, one of you should start CPR immediately while the other one call emergency help or finds an AED.

Cardiac arrest is a reversible condition, but the victim needs to be treated immediately. In Canada, survival rates of cardiac arrest victims has gone high since the use of more efficient AED to provide the immediate help required. The use of the defibrillator and bedside monitoring in most of the hospitals has led to the decreased number of deaths. However, something that should be noted is that if one does not know how to use AED or to carry out CPR, one should not experiment on a cardiac arrest victim.

Chain of Survival to Rescue Cardiac Arrest Victims

This chain consists of:

  • Early recognition of the problem and activation of the EMS or emergency medical services.
  • Immediate defibrillation when it is indicated
  • Early bystander CPR and
  • Immediate advanced emergency help followed by post-resuscitation care provided by professional health care providers.

Caring for Children

Children who suffer from cardiac arrest need to have their body temperature, blood pressure, glucose and cardiac and ventilation output managed. The survival rate is always high when emergency help is provided for both children and adults.

Where to Learn More?

To learn more about providing aid and recognizing victims of cardiac arrest enrol in St Mark James first aid and CPR courses. Participants that complete the programs will receive an award that meets workplace requirements and learn the latest American Heart Association rescue techniques.


[heading style=”1″]CPR and AED Tips on how to conduct first aid to unconscious patients[/heading]
unconscious victim first aid treatment

Initial assessment of the patient prior to first aid treatment

Consciousness pertains to our awareness of our own thoughts, feelings, memories, sensations and environment. It is when we are aware of the world around us. Thus, when one is unconscious, he/ she is incapable of responding to people and/ or activities. The disruption in the brain’s normal activity leads to momentary loss of consciousness, which can occur gradually or suddenly. It must be noted that being asleep is different from being unconscious. Whereas the former is capable of responding to loud noises or mild pressure applied to their body, the latter will not. Moreover, an unconscious person is unable to clear his or her throat or cough. You need to have your AED training to learn more about first aid treament and CPR as well.

The first important step is to begin by completing an initial survey – danger, response, airway, breathing (DRAB). Check for danger. Ensure that the area is safe before assessing the victim. If the victim is drowning, first make sure that it is safe to enter the water before jumping in to rescue. Check for a response from the victim. Give a command such as “Open your eyes” or “Can you hear me?” Shake their shoulders gently. If there is a response, immediately assess for other injuries such as severe bleeding. Lift the chin, clear the mouth and tilt the head to open airway. Using two fingers lift the chin and place the other hand on the forehead. It is necessary to check for breathing as first aid would differ if there is absence. To do this, position the cheek close to the mouth. For no more than ten seconds, observe if there is a rise and fall in the chest. Listen for breathing and try to feel the breath on the cheek. If there is breathing and assuming there is no major injury, move the victim into the recovery position. Turn the victim on his/ her side. To open airway position, lift chin forward. Place the hand under the cheek and adjust as necessary. Ensure that the victim will not be falling forward or backward. Continuously monitor for breathing. Again, assuming that there are no other injuries, turn the victim to the other side after half an hour. If there is suspected spinal injury, do not move the victim. Call for emergency medical response. Find for the nearest first aid and CPR training locations in your place and enroll.

Here is a related video from the British St Mark James entitled “Everyday First Aid: Unconscious and not breathing”

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If the victim is unconscious and deemed not breathing after completing the initial DRAB survey, immediately begin CPR. Call for emergency medical response only if the rescuer is not alone. However, if alone, scream for help and return, reexamine and carry on with CPR. If the victim is unconscious cause by drowning, give five initial rescue breaths. To perform a rescue breath, make sure airway is open and pinch the nose resolutely closed. Take a deep breath and cover the lips around the victim’s mouth. Blow into the mouth until there is a rise in the chest. Allow the chest to fall by removing mouth. Repeat five times. Then commence CPR for one minute before finding help. In order to give compressions, position the heel of the hand in the center of the chest and position the second hand on top, interlocking the fingers. Arms must remain straight and fingers off the chest. Press down five or six centimeters and discharge the pressure whilst keeping the hands in place. Repeat compressions for about 30 times, at a rate of 100-120 per minute. Give an additional two rescue breaths. Continue the same cycle: CPR, 30 compression, two rescue breaths until either arrival of emergency help or there are recovery signs such as coughing, eyes opening, speaking or moving and normal breathing.

Although these are fairly easy to do, panic almost always arises from these kinds of situations. First Aid certification and CPR classes are always the best way to be guided in emergency situations such as these.

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