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Sudden cardiac arrests can happen at any time or place, the workplace being no exception. It is estimated that about 10,000 cases of sudden cardiac arrests occur at work annually. However, if the proper tools are accessible and people know how to use them, the chance of survival increases from 7% to 38%. These tools include the ability to perform CPR and use an Automated External Defibrillator, or AED. So, how do you get ready to handle these emergencies? Follow these 5 tips to improve your awareness and readiness:
1. Encourage Your Team to Get Certified in AED Usage and CPR
To be best prepared, step one is to understand the responsibilities involved in performing these lifesaving activities. This involves training and certification. While this is especially important for school nurses and health and safety managers within a workplace, everyone can get involved to learn the steps of these important processes. The American Red Cross, American Heart Association®, and PlusTrac™ AED Management offer CPR and AED implementation courses and resources to assist in this effort.
2. Learn to Recognize Warning Signs of SCA
People can exhibit warning signs of an oncoming sudden cardiac arrest. If you can recognize these symptoms quickly and respond, the chance of survival is much higher. Here are the main symptoms to look for:
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- No pulse
- No breathing
- Loss of consciousness
As soon as you recognize the symptoms, jump into action by calling 911, performing CPR or using an AED to help. Having the right AED system at your workplace is a critical preparation step in this process. AEDs from Zoll® come with written and verbal instructions to help guide you through the emergency.
3. Assess AED Placement in Your Workplace
AEDs are most effective within a three-minute window of sudden cardiac arrests, so placement of the device in your workplace is very important. Make sure that it is in an easily accessible location with appropriate signs, and that you take the time to review its location with your employees. At a minimum you should have one on each floor, and they should be placed four feet off the ground so those with wheelchairs can also access them. You could also consider these areas for additional device placements:
- Primary entrances
- Receptions desks
- Main hallways
- Outside stairways
- Fitness centers
Creating easy access to these devices and ensuring your employees know where they are will increase chances of survival in a sudden cardiac arrest emergency.
4. Make Sure Your Device is Always Ready for Use
Once you have your team trained and your devices placed, some maintenance is required to make sure your AED will work in cases of emergency. We recommend assigning someone to check on the unit and make the necessary part replacements. In general, the electrode pads should be replaced every 18-30 months and the batteries should be replaced every 2-5 years. However if you use an AED from Zoll®, the pads should last up to 5 years and the batteries up to 7 years. Zoll® devices also automatically self-test every 7 days, so you will be alerted to any issues. AEDs will list their expiration date, which is usually about 10 years after purchase. Make sure to follow the specific instructions on your device so it is ready for any emergency.
5. Enable Your Team to Take Action
Having the necessary equipment is a great first step, but your employees must be able to use them in emergency situations for them to be effective. We recommend hosting a company wide safety training so everyone gets the information they need. Another helpful resource is the Chain of Survival, which identifies the five most important steps to improve survival rate. Make sure to have this resource handy by explaining it during a training session or printing out a poster to keep with your AED.
By advocating for these trainings and devices in your workplace, you are spreading awareness of sudden cardiac arrests and helping improve the safety of your community.
1. “It’s CPR & AED Awareness Week: 5 Ways to Get Involved”. Zoll®, 6 June 2020, www.zoll.com/zoll-news/2020/06/06/cpr-and-aed-awareness-week-5-ways-to-get-involved. Accessed 1 June 2021.