Safety Moment

What is CPR and AED?

CPR stands for Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation, an emergency lifesaving procedure which is performed when the heart stops beating. The main purpose of CPR is to keep organs alive by supplying them with oxygen. 

What is AED?

safety-aed-signAED stands for Automated External Defibrillator, a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and can send an external electric current or shock to the heart in an attempt to restore or "reset" the irregular heart beat back to a normal rhythm. Defibrillation is most successful when done within four (4) minutes of the collapse. AEDs are used to treat sudden cardiac arrest. AEDs are designed to only allow a shock to be given if an arrhythmia is detected. If it doesn't detect the need for a shock, it will instruct you to perform CPR.

What is sudden cardiac arrest?

A normal heart beat is caused by rhythmic electrical impulses. Sudden cardiac arrest, or SCA, is usually caused by arrhthmias or abnormal heart rhythms. The majority of SCAs are caused by ventricular fibrillation, which is a condition where the electrical impulses of the lower heart chambers suddenly become chaotic, causing the heart to stop pumping blood. Unless the heart returns to its normal rhythm, death can occur in a matter of minutes. SCAs are not predictable and many victims show no history of heart problems. SCAs can strike anyone at anytime, anywhere. 

When should CPR be used?

CPR should only be administered when someone is unconscious, unresponsive, and has stopped breathing. This should not be performed on anyone unless these conditions are met. There are many causes of these circumstances, such as heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest, stroke, drowning, electrocution, poisoning and severe injuries, but regardless of the cause, the treatment is the same. 

What does CPR involve?

CPR involves two main things:

  1. Blowing air into the casualty because they are not breathing on their own.
  2. Compressing their chest to squeeze the heart. When the heart is squeezed, blood will circulate. By circulating blood, we also circulate oxygen that is in the blood stream.


What should I do if someone needs CPR?

A person who stops breathing may die or suffer brain damage within minutes if they do not receive prompt, proper help. It is important to recognize the following:

  • safety-cpr-call-personKnow an emergency contact and call them immediately (call 911 if you do not know the person)
  • Have help come to the victim: don't move the person unless they are in dire peril of further injury, and then use extreme care
  • Avoid actions that could cause further harm to the victim
  • Don't provide medication without medical supervision
  • If you're not sure what to do, don't do anything until medical help arrives

Should I wait for EMS?

A victim's best chance for survival is if CPR and defibrillation occurs within four (4) minutes of the collapse, and some EMS response times can be longer. However, if you are unsure of what to do, it is best not to do anything until medical help arrives. 

Proper training in CPR and AEDs are two crucial parts of successfully helping someone survive an SCA. Having well trained people in the workplace can save lives. 

What is the Cardiac Chain of Survival? 

The Cardiac Chain of Survival includes four critical steps that should be used when treating a sudden cardiac arrest? 

  1. Early access to care: Call 911 or EMS immediately
  2. Start CPR as soon as possible
  3. Defibrillate as soon as possible (AED)
  4. Early advanced cardiac life support


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