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EMS Week Safety Focus: Cardiac Arrest Response
Cardiac Arrest

According to the University of Arizona’s Sarver Heart Center, every year more than 160,000 people die of sudden cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is a condition where the heart suddenly stops pumping blood. In many cases, the heart goes from a regular heartbeat to random twitching (called ventricular fibrillation). When something like this happens blood stops moving through the body. In this condition, quick action must be taken for the person to have a chance of survival.

Check for responsiveness (Are they awake? Breathing?), if not responsive:

Call 9-1-1
Push hard and fast in the center of the chest (about 100 compressions per minute)
Send someone for an AED (Automated External Defibrillator)
Keep going until help arrives

When you call 9-1-1 for a medical emergency, be ready to provide two critical pieces of information. First, what is the nature of the emergency? Is the person unconscious, are they breathing, are they having chest pains? Second, what is your location? Addresses, space or apartment numbers, business names, all help get Paramedics on the way to you. Next, stay on the line and follow the instructions of the Emergency Medical Dispatcher.

Whether it is a question of training, or bystanders being hesitant about the “mouth to mouth” part of CPR, people remain hesitant to step in and begin CPR. The Yuma Fire Department has been providing training in the new “Compression Only” CPR (that does not include mouth to mouth resuscitation).  Studies have shown this type of CPR is not only more likely to be used, but also is more effective than traditional CPR for cases of cardiac arrest.

AED’s deliver a lifesaving electrical shock that can return a heart to its normal function of pumping blood. They are designed for people without medical training to use and are becoming more common in businesses, schools, government buildings, mobile home and RV parks. Citizens should learn more about AEDs, how to use them, and remember to check for one when a medical emergency like this happens. AEDs have been used to save lives in Yuma.