A healthy looking man near you suddenly faints, stops breathing, and has no signs of life. What do you do? Well according to a new study you probably would not recognize that he’s having a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) and also not be aware that using an automated external defibrillator (AED) would greatly increase his chances of survival.
The study titled “Cardiac Arrests in Schools: Assessing use of Automated External Defibrillators on School Campuses,” and published in the journal Resuscitation analyzed school SCAs, evaluated AED accessibility and obstacles preventing usage, the main being lack of awareness on the part of bystanders. The study showed that over a 6 period, 47 people experienced a sudden cardiac arrest, and only 15 survived.
325,000 people die every year in the United States due to sudden cardiac arrest. It is an especially tragic experience when it occurs in a school, but even more so when it could be prevented. Much of the reason comes down to education. What the study’s authors concluded was that most bystanders are either unable to recognize that a SCA was occurring, thought the victim was having a seizure or unaware that the school had an AED.
The study is cited as the first of its kind to delve into bystanders’ thought processes and why AEDs are not used considering the rate of survival increases dramatically, three times greater according to the author’s findings. This is critical because enhancing sudden cardiac arrest awareness is key in preventing these accidents from turning fatal.
The study yielded further surprising results with the time and age of SCA victims. Of the 47 people who suffered a SCA on school grounds, 66% were older than 19 years old and 30% occurred after normal school hours. The author’s reasoned this is due to schools being more than just educational hubs for students, but community centers, making the need for enhanced public awareness all the greater.
Having a written and exercised emergency action plan WILL increase odds of survival. Make sure your plan encompasses:
- An emergency communication system
- Proper CPR and AED procedures
- AED locations
- Immediately defibrillation of the victim
This plan should be rehearsed and reviewed frequently. More attention needs to be paid to planning for emergency response, on and off school campuses.
In Good Heart Health,