CPR saves lives. In fact, according to the American Heart Association, CPR performed in the first few minutes of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest, can double or even triple a person's chance of survival. Sudden Cardiac Arrest, or SCA is an electrical malfunction in the heart that causes an irregular heartbeat. It can disrupt the blood flow to the brain, lungs and other organs. The AHA says 90% of people who suffer out-of-hospital SCA die.
Suzi Crickmore, a certified CPR instructor in the Pacific Northwest says the biggest mistake people make when witnessing SCA, is doing nothing. That's why knowing what it looks like, sounds like, and understanding how to perform CPR is so important.
Sudden Cardiac Arrest can happen instantly, and often without warning in a person who may or may not have been diagnosed with heart disease.
According to the American Heart Association, here are the signs of Sudden Cardiac Arrest:
- Sudden loss of responsiveness (no response to tapping on shoulders).
- No response to tapping on shoulders.
- Does nothing when you ask if he's OK.
- No normal breathing
- Victim is not breathing or is only gasping.
If you suspect someone is suffering from cardiac arrest:
- Tap and shout
- Check if the person responds. Tap him and shout, “Are you OK?” If he doesn’t move, speak, blink, or otherwise react, then he is not responding.
- Yell for help
- Tell someone to call 9-1-1 or your emergency response number and get an AED (if one is available).
- If you are alone with an adult who has these signs of cardiac arrest, call 9-1-1 and get an AED (if one is available).
- Check breathing:
- If the person isn't breathing or is only gasping, give CPR.
- Give CPR: Push hard and fast
- Push down at least 2 inches at a rate of 100 to 120 pushes a minute in the center of the chest, allowing the chest to come back up to its normal position after each push.
- Use an AED as soon as it arrives by turning it on and following the prompt.
- Keep pushing until the person starts to breathe or move or someone with more advanced training takes over.
To find a CPR training center near you, or to learn more about CPR, click here:
For guidelines for CPR on children and babies, click here:
It's important to note Washington State's "Good Samaritan Law" which protects people and gives them immunity from liability for certain types of medial care. In short, it states, you won't be held liable if you perform CPR on a stranger, regardless of the outcome.
Here is the law for Good Samaritan Statutes: