Cardiac arrest: What to do
By now, everyone has probably heard about the NFL player who suffered a sudden cardiac arrest during “Monday Night Football”: Damar Hamlin, a 24-year-old Buffalo Bills safety thought to be in perfect health, collapsed after tackling a Bengals receiver.
The night’s events demonstrate the critical importance of knowing what to do when someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest, including being aware of the signs and symptoms, having an emergency action plan, and quickly implementing CPR and AED, or automated external defibrillator. What we all witnessed that night was a plan of action that saved Hamlin’s life.
As responsible boaters, we are encouraged to take a CPR course. Knowing CPR is just the first step in saving a life. CPR can keep a person alive by circulating oxygenated blood to the brain and other critical organs. No one person can perform high-quality CPR for long before becoming exhausted. As a result, the quality of CPR deteriorates, the victim’s blood pressure drops, and the oxygenated blood flow drops to a point where it can no longer sustain life. More importantly, no matter how good the CPR provider is, CPR by itself will not restart a heart. Defibrillation is the only way an untrained bystander can restart a heart.
An AED delivers a shock to a heart only when it detects erratic electrical activity that can be brought back to a normal rhythm. According to the American Heart Association, if a sudden cardiac arrest victim receives high-quality CPR and AED within four minutes of the attack, they have a 74% chance of survival. The chance of survival diminishes by 10% for each minute of delayed response.
If you are currently certified, thank you. If not, contact a local training program (American Heart Association or Red Cross) and get certified or recertified as soon as you can. Read more about recognizing signs of cardiac arrest and other heart problems here. –Jeff McKinney
Prepare for any crisis
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