Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a major killer in Australia, with 20,000 people experiencing the condition and only 10% surviving it annually. Unfortunately, the condition often arises from previously undetected cardiac issues, and it is very difficult to provide assistance to a sufferer early enough for them to survive.
Most SCA experiences are due to ventricular fibrillation (VF), which is a shockable heart rhythm that can possibly be returned to its normal sinus rhythm if using an available automated external defibrillator (AED).
For a sufferer to have any chance of survival, one must provide them with a defibrillator shock from the available AED, but conditions are only possible for saving the sufferer’s life within a few minutes of the event, so it absolutely imperative that a device is nearby, for these reasons, too:
- They can be used by everyone
These life-saving devices require minimal (if any) training, as they provide the user with detailed-yet-easily understandable instructions on how to provide the defibrillator shock.
- They are highly portable
The devices found in public spaces are typically highly compact and easy to use, making them easy for people of all ages to access and provide the defibrillator shock.
- They only work if really needed
These smart devices will analyse the heart’s rhythm and evaluate whether it is truly necessary to provide the shock. The machine will guide the user to the point where it may or may not be necessary to provide the shock.
- They can return the heart to its normal rhythm
Defibrillation utilises an electric shock that puts an end to VF’s chaotic rhythm, potentially allowing the heart’s normal, electrical and organised rhythm to restart, thus allowing the heart’s pumping action to return to normal.
- Typical AED pads can be used on children above eight years
The automated external defibrillator comes with special paediatric pads that can be used on children between one and eight years (if the public space has them available). If these pads are not available, you can still use standard-sized pads, but it is not recommended that these devices are used on babies younger than one year (if there is no other defibrillation device available it can be considered, but with the specialised paediatric if available).
- They are imperative to increasing chances of survival
Once there is an event of SCA, the sufferer’s chances of survival drop seven to 10% after every minute, thus cementing the need for fast action using an available device.
- There is a real need for bystanders to provide adequate care
Unfortunately, there is still not enough awareness about the use of AEDs in public spaces, and for this reason many people do not receive adequate care from bystanders.
- It affects many people under the age of 50
Unfortunately, around 2,000 Australians under the age of 50 die from SCA every year. This further cements the need to provide adequate care in public spaces.
- Urgent care is needed to re-establish the heart’s typical rhythm
Both defibrillation and CPR are vital for helping keep the patient alive after heart attack. Survival rates can be exceeded by 50% if both CPR and early defibrillation are provided, with CPR increasing the sufferer’s survival chance by 5% and, combined with defibrillation, increased by 50%.
So, for these reasons it is absolutely vital that public spaces have an easily accessible automated external defibrillator on-hand. But more than this, it is imperative that bystanders are aware of the device. They don’t have to be trained in it – they simply have to know it is there.