Cardiac Arrest: How to Respond as a Bystander


Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is one of the leading causes of death in the USA, with approximately 366,000 SCA mortalities happening each year.

Without immediate treatment, 90-95% of SCA victims will die, and for each minute that passes where a victim doesn’t receive treatment, their chance of survival decreases by 10%.

You only have a short period of time to act when somebody suffers a sudden cardiac arrest. Here’s what you should do if you witness an SCA…

Establish If It Is an SCA

If the victim has collapsed and isn’t breathing, they could have suffered an SCA. 

Call the Emergency Services

Dial 911 and speak to the operator. They will confirm if the victim is suffering an SCA, explain how to perform CPR, and inform you about where the nearest public-access defibrillator is.

Perform CPR

Because the victim’s heart is no longer pumping blood around the body, it’s up to you to do it manually.

This is done through CPR, where you compress and release the chest to push blood to the essential organs. You will need to…

  • Place the heel of your hand on the victim’s chest, place your other hand on top and interlock your fingers.
  • Position your shoulders directly above your hands and press down using your full bodyweight.
  • Keeping your fingers interlocked, allow the victim’s chest to return to its original position following each compression.
  • Repeat this at a rate of 100-200 compressions per minute. This should be done until an AED is located or the emergency services arrive.

Locate and Use an AED

When a person goes into SCA, their heart enters a state of ventricular fibrillation, and the only way to restore it to its usual rhythm is to shock it using an automated external defibrillator (AED).

If you can locate an AED, it should be used as early as possible in the process to give the victim the best chance of survival. You should…

  • Turn the AED on
  • Follow the prompts provided by the machine
  • It will instruct you when and how to deliver CPR
  • If a life-saving shock is needed, the AED will deliver it automatically (it won’t shock a person who isn’t suffering an SCA)
  • Perform CPR in between shocks

Stay Protected

Sudden cardiac arrests can happen to any person at any time, regardless of physical health. Make sure that you know where your nearest defibrillator is located, because every minute counts. If you think that your place of work isn’t prepared enough for a sudden cardiac arrest, take a look at our range of AEDs and ensure your colleagues safety.

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