Claire Crawford is a 17 year old high school senior who, thanks to early CPR and an automated external defibrillators (AED), will live to graduate later this year. Fortunately, for her, she collapsed on the volleyball court in the middle of a match at her school, where several staff members trained in CPR and the use of an AED were in attendance, and an AED was hanging on a nearby wall. Watch the video of her collapse and rescue here.
But what if Claire had collapsed elsewhere, such as at home, behind the wheel of a car, or on a remote hike in Central America from where she had recently returned? Quite simply, she would have died.
As a former paramedic and EMS administrator, I can share with you firsthand that if a cardiac arrest victim hasn’t received bystander CPR by the time we arrive, the outcome isn’t good. The brain suffers irreversible damage after being without oxygen for about 4 or 6 minutes. Even the best of CPR is generally not enough on its own to “bring someone back.” Electricity through the administration of an AED is, in most cases of sudden cardiac arrest, the only thing that can reverse the electrical disturbance in the heart. You might be thinking, “Great! I’ll be fine. There are AEDs everywhere now.”
While it’s true we have seen a surge in the number of “public access” defibrillation programs in high density and other high-risk locations – schools, airports, casinos, fitness clubs, and shopping malls – it isn’t quite so straightforward.
AEDs are exceptionally easy to use, even by the lay rescuer with minimal or no training. Once powered on, the device talks the rescuer through each step to assist the victim. The trouble is, without tight coordination with local EMS and 9-1-1, many of these devices have gone unused, even when the cardiac arrest victim is step away from an AED.
Why is that?
In a public setting, the first witness to a cardiac arrest often has no affiliation with that location. Even if they do, they still might be unfamiliar with onsite procedures, AED locations, and the like. To further complicate the matter, even if the local 9-1-1 center is aware of the location of a nearby AED (which is generally not the case), typically they don’t have the capability of notifying onsite responders who can arrive at the victim’s side much faster than local fire and EMS responders can.
At Rave, we address these gaps in the Chain of Survival of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest, from a few different directions.
Through Smart911Facility, a component of our Smart911 application, the 9-1-1 call taker can receive immediate information about the location of nearby AEDs.
Rave Panic Button, another application that ties into Smart911, gives authorized employees at a location the ability to connect with 9-1-1 and immediately notify their coworkers of the location and nature of the emergency they are witnessing through a single button press. Through Smart911, 9-1-1 call takers also can deliver a rapid notification to onsite employees at a facility that uses Rave Panic Button, to allow them to initiate an onsite response. All of these capabilities combine to make for a fully integrated approach to cardiac arrest response, not to mention any other type of emergency.
February is American Heart Month, with a goal of preventing 1 million heart attacks and strokes by 2017. So, what can you do as an employee, a parent, first responder or 9-1-1 telecommunicator to participate and even strengthen the Chain of Survival?
- Prevention is the first step. Know your blood pressure, take medications as prescribed, quit smoking, exercise regularly, and reduce sodium intake.
- Recognize the early warning signs of heart attack and stroke.
- Get trained in hands-only CPR and the use of an AED.
- Become a champion at your workplace – encourage your employer to train employees in CPR and purchase an AED. Work with local first responders to help establish an internal response team, and practice the response plan frequently, until it becomes second nature. Eliminate single points of failure in the plan. For example, don’t keep the AED in a locked office that only one or two people have access to.
- Learn more about how the capabilities of Smart911, Rave Panic Button, and Smart911Facility can strengthen the Chain of Survival in your community and in your workplace by clicking here and ask your employer and local officials to do the same.
The next person who goes into cardiac arrest will be thankful that you did.