National CPR and AED Awareness Week Spotlights Saving Lives

Jack Casey almost missed his son’s high school graduation ceremony.

To be fair, had he missed it, he would have had a pretty good excuse. Like being dead and buried.

Back in the spring of 2015, Jack suffered sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). It occurred at the Chick-fil-A in Escambia County in Florida, where he worked.

Jack was clinically dead for about 30 minutes. Fortunately for Jack and his family, first responders and bystanders came to his rescue. They started CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and continued until his heart began beating again.

Heart Attack Victims Say Thanks

One week ago, Jack introduced himself to Escambia County emergency medical technicians and paramedics. He began with, “I’m the guy who died at Chick-fil-A.”

That type of sentence has a way of making people pay attention to you. He followed up by saying, “CPR saves lives.”

Jack and six other survivors of sudden cardiac arrest were honored by the county’s emergency medical services staff at a ceremony.

That’s where he and the other survivors met the people who brought them back to life. And met with other survivors to share their life-and-death stories.

90% of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Victims Die

Those seven people, plus hundreds of thousands of other Americans, would be missing many important events today. Such as graduation ceremonies, weddings, the births of children and others… if it weren’t for CPR and those who perform it.

This week (June 1-7) is National CPR and AED Awareness Week. AED stands for automated external defibrillators.

It is sponsored by the American Heart Association (AHA). In coalition with the American Red Cross and the National Safety Council. According to the AHA, about 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur each year.

Approximately 90 percent of those people die. But if CPR is performed immediately, the patient’s chance of survival can double or triple.

Most Cardiac Arrests Happen at Home

This annual week was established by Congress in 2007. It spotlights how lives can be saved if more Americans knew CPR and how to use an AED.

The campaign emphasizes the importance of ordinary citizens learning these skills. And encourages bystanders to act in a cardiac arrest emergency before first responders arrive.

Approximately 70 percent of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in homes. That means if you learn CPR, your most likely use for it would be to save a loved one.

CPR.Heart.org is a site where you can find resources about CPR, and even training kits.

The Signs of Sudden Cardiac Arrest

If someone experiences sudden cardiac arrest in your presence, their heart will stop beating. And blood will no longer flow to the brain and throughout the body.

They will collapse and stop breathing normally. They may have seizures.

For every minute that passes without CPR, their chances of survival decrease by 7 to 10 percent.

If everyone knew how to perform CPR, about 50,000 more lives could be saved each year.

SCA Factoids

Below are five interesting facts about sudden cardiac arrest (SCA):

  • This is not an “old people’s problem.” It can happen at any age. In fact, it occurs to more than 6,000 people under the age of 18 each year.
  • It doesn’t only happen to people with previous heart problems. It is often the first sign of a heart issue.
  • Victims aren’t better off waiting for professional help to arrive. Bystanders who know CPR can save lives.
  • It is not the same as a heart attack. Heart attack victims are usually awake with beating hearts. SCA victims are unconscious and their hearts are not beating.
  • AEDs are safe and effective. People in cardiac arrest are clinically dead. AEDs don’t shock the heart unless the heart needs shocking to start beating again.

Get CPR Training – You May Save a Life

Reviewing materials is good for learning about this important topic. But there’s nothing like hands-on training.

Take a look at your local hospitals and medical clinics to learn when CPR and AED training is available in your community.

Classes and demonstrations are held all over the country on a regular basis. Anyone can learn how to perform CPR.

And unlike many classes people take in their communities, this one actually saves lives.

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