Of the 300,000 Americans, a year, who suffer cardiac arrests outside of hospitals, fewer than 8 percent survive. The American Heart Association says the percentage could improve dramatically if more of us knew what to do right away.
- Know the signs: the person will collapse, lose consciousness, turn very pale and won’t be moving or breathing
- Call 911: If you are with other people, one of you should call 911 while the other starts the next step
- Use a defibrillator: If you are in a public place or office that has an automated external defibrillator (AED), use it immediately. These devices deliver a shock that restarts the hearts normal electrical activity, and some are simple enough to use without medical training. The device won’t work if it detects a heartbeat, so there is no risk involved. Once you turn it on, the AED’ s voice commands will take you through the process, step by step.
- Start CPR: do this immediately if you do not have a defibrillator! Even if you’ve never taken a course you can still perform this lifesaving move. Place the heel of one hand in the center of the victim’s chest, then place your other hand over the other and push down firmly. The most effective rate is 100 compressions per minute-the same rhythm as the beat of the Bee Gee’s song Stayin’ Alive, says Dr. Nadkami of the AMA. To get CPR certified, you can find a class at americanheart.org/cpr