Cardiac Arrest: Dos and Don’ts

Unfortunately, according to the American Heart Association, only about 46 percent of people who experience a cardiac arrest out of the hospital receive the help they need. What these victims need is CPR—or cardiopulmonary resuscitation, a simple life-saving skill that anyone can learn to perform.

What is Cardiac Arrest?

Many people don’t know the difference between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack and use the two terms interchangeably. A heart attack occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked. If the blocked artery is not reopened quickly, the part of the heart that is nourished and oxygenated by the blood flow from that artery begins to “die.” Symptoms of a heart attack can include intense discomfort in the chest, shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, cold sweats, and pain radiating to the jaw or arm. If you or a loved one is experiencing symptoms of a heart attack, call 911 immediately. The longer a person goes without treatment, the higher the damage.

Cardiac arrest, happens when the heart cannot pump blood to the brain, lungs and other organs due to an arrhythmia, or irregular heartbeat. A person becomes unresponsive, loses their pulse and stops breathing. Irreversible death will occur within minutes if the victim does not receive immediate treatment.

What To Do

The first step is to call 911, and you’re going to perform the simple steps of hands-only CPR. The dispatcher may have further instructions for you. It is essential to remain as calm as you can and follow directions carefully. Remember that answering the dispatcher’s questions will not delay the arrival of help. The dispatcher will help you remember the steps of hands-only CPR. You will be asked to place both hands in the center of the victim’s chest. You will need to push down hard (about 2-2.5 inches for an adult) and fast (100-120 beats per minute).

Hands-only CPR eliminates the step of stopping compressions to give breaths, as is done in traditional CPR by trained rescuers. While the American Heart Association still recommends CPR with compressions and breaths for infants; children; and victims of drowning, drug overdose or respiratory distress, studies have shown that hands-only CPR is just as useful for most cardiac arrest victims. All you need to remember to save a life: Call 911 and Push Hard and Fast!

Hudson Regional Emergency Medical Services: A Mission to Empower

When Kristin Hyman, HRH’s chief of EMS, learned that up to 70 percent of Americans don’t know how to perform the life-saving skill of CPR, she and her team made it their mission to change that in our community. “We started by visiting a program called the Resuscitation Academy in Howard County, Maryland, where they have increased their cardiac arrest survival rate remarkably,” she said. There, she and her team developed a plan. “It takes about 30 seconds to learn to perform CPR, so we started going out into the community—street fairs, the public library, local schools—and showing people that this is a skill anyone can do.”

Next, the EMS team at HRH started to train and drill together to enhance their response to this type of emergency better. “This is arguably the most important type of emergency we ever have to respond to. Wcare started training to ensure we operate like a well-oiled machine (we answer 911 calls in Secaucus). Everyone from the 911 dispatcher to each EMT has a job to do during a cardiac arrest. We like to look at a well-trained community as just one more assistant to help ensure the best chance of survival for the patient.”

Along with the Education Center at HRH, they took their community education program even further by developing a series of free courses taught at HRH and in communities, also going into depth on CPR and even broaching topics such as heart attack awareness and stroke prevention. “So far in 2018, we have taught over 1,000 people how to perform CPR. In 2019, we’d like to double or triple that number,” Hyman said. For her, and the rest of the HRH team, empowering the community is a personal mission. “Knowledge is power: Whether with cardiac arrest or any other issue, giving citizens the ability to act as their first responders in a medical emergency is the best step we can take towards a healthier community.”

About Hudson Regional Hospital

Hudson Regional Hospital is celebrating its first year as a new, premier hospital providing comprehensive care to Northern New Jersey. We provide exceptional care, sophisticated technology and knowledgeable physicians. Contact HRH at 201-392-3100 or email info@HudsonRegionalHospital.com. For emergencies, proceed directly to the emergency room. The emergency room contact number is 201-392-3210.

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