Resuscitation and defibrillation

Helen Till, a retired clin­ical nurse, now has a new role as a resus­cit­a­tion officer in the hos­pital environment.

She men­tioned that in the UK every year, 30,000 cases of sudden car­diac arrest (SCA) occur.

  • Survival rate is less than one in ten
  • Death is inev­it­able unless SCA recog­nised promptly, CPR com­men­ded and defib­ril­la­tion performed

FAQs:

  • What is a car­diac arrest?  The heart has stopped pump­ing blood to the body and brain, the person will fall uncon­scious and stop breath­ing.  Without CPR the person will die within minutes
  • How does CPR help?   By per­form­ing chest com­pres­sions (and rescue breaths) this pumps blood and oxygen around the body.
  • Is a car­diac arrest the same as a heart attack?  No — they are not the same — a heart attack can lead to a car­diac arrest but both are med­ical emer­gen­cies and it is neces­sary to call 999

Most SCA cases are due to abnor­mal heart rhythm.  The major factor lim­it­ing sur­vival is that SCA and AED (defib­ril­lator) are used within the crit­ical time (con­di­tions are optimal only for a few minutes after the onset but can be exten­ded by effect­ive CPR.

Defibrillation helps by deliv­er­ing a high energy elec­tric shock to the heart through the chest wall  and chest com­pres­sions also help.

Survival of an SCA is pos­it­ively asso­ci­ated with:

  • Witness col­lapse
  • Early CPR by bystanders
  • Presence of shock­able rhythm
  • Short time from col­lapse to start of CPR
  • Short time from col­lapse to AED

Do CPR until ambu­lance arrives.

Helen demon­strated on a man­nekin how to apply CPR and use a defib­ril­lator. The AED, when activ­ated, gave recor­ded instruc­tion at every step.  It told how and where to place the pads which had to be applied to bare skin.

Members of the club volun­teered to per­form the tech­nique on the man­nekin and were amazed at how much effort was required to do the CPR.

There were mul­tiple ques­tions from the floor and Helen answered them all.  She was thanked for her invalu­able talk and demonstrations.