First Aid Information

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Cardiac Arrest information


Cardiac arrest is when the heart stops beating therefore normal circulation of blood stops.

A cardiac arrest is different from (but may be caused by) a heart attack, where blood flow to the muscle of the heart is impaired.

Cardiac Arrest prevents delivery of oxygen  to the body.   Lack of oxygen to the brain causes unconsciousness which then will result in abnormal or absent breathing.

Brain injury is likely to happen if a cardiac arrest goes untreated for more than five minutes.  For the best chance of survival, immediate and decisive treatment is imperative.

The treatment for cardiac arrest is immediate defibrillation, while cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is used to help with the delivery of oxygen to the body’s vital organs.

Cardiac arrest is a medical emergency that, in certain situations, is potentially reversible if treated early.

Cardiac Arrest - Algorithm

Cardiac Arrest – Algorithm


A heart attack (Myocardial infarction) happens when blood stops flowing properly to a part of the heart and is caused by a blood clot.

This results in this part of the heart not receiving enough oxygen.  Usually this is because one of the coronary arteries that supplies blood to the heart develops a blockage due to an unstable build-up of cholesterol and fat.

A person having a heart attack usually has sudden chest pain that is felt behind the breast bone and sometimes travels to the left arm or the left side of the neck.  Additionally, the person may have shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, sweating, nausea, vomiting, abnormal heartbeats, anxiety, shortness of breath, weakness, a feeling of indigestion, and fatigue.

A heart attack requires immediate medical attention.

  • CALL 999 or 112 immediately!
  • Sit the casualty down (on the floor is best) leaning against the wall with their knees bent up.
  • You can give the casualty an Aspirin to chew (this helps to stop more blood clotting)
  • Keep the casualty warm and reassured
  • Keep monitoring their vital signs – Breathing/Pulse rate
  • If casualty stops breathing follow this treatment for a cardiac arrest


An Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) is a small, portable easy to operate lifesaving device designed to deliver an electrical shock to a person who’s heart is in Cardiac Arrest.  This device is the only equipment that is going to save a person who is suffering from Cardiac Arrest.

The best chance of survival for a casualty who has stopped breathing is immediate and decisive treatment.

A cardiac arrest can be potentially reversible if treated early, with good CPR (Cardio Pulmonary resuscitation) and an AED.


The heart has its own internal electrical system which controls the rate and rhythm of the heartbeat. An electrical signal spreads from the top of the heart to the bottom; this electrical pulse causes the heart to contract and pump the blood out around the body.

Problems with the electrical system can cause abnormal heart rhythms called arrhythmia’s. During an arrhythmia, the heart can beat too fast, too slow, or with an irregular rhythm. Some arrhythmia’s can cause the heart to stop pumping blood to the body; these arrhythmia’s cause a Cardiac Arrest.

The most common cause of Cardiac Arrest is an arrhythmia called ventricular fibrillation (VF), In VF; the ventricles (the heart’s lower chambers) don’t beat normally. Instead, they quiver very rapidly and irregularly.

In casualties who are in VF / Cardiac Arrest, need to have an electric shock administered from an AED, this shock stops the heart dead, with the hope that the hearts own electrical system will kick back in and restore the heart’s normal rhythm.


It is advised to be able to use an AED; you should take a 4 – 5 hour course which will give you the knowledge and practical confidence to use an AED and provide CPR quickly and decisively.

That said most AED’s are fully automated, so even without any training turn the machine on and follow the voice prompts.

Do not delay starting CPR unless the AED is available immediately.

  • If more than one rescuer is present, continue CPR while the AED is switched on.
  • If you are alone, stop CPR and switch on the AED.
  • Follow the voice / visual prompts.
  • Attach the electrode pads to the patient’s bare chest.
  • Ensure that nobody touches the victim while the AED is analysing the rhythm.
  • If a shock is advised, ensure that nobody is touching the casualty, push the shock button as directed
  • Continue as directed by the voice prompts.
  • Resume CPR immediately using a ratio of 30 compression’s to 2 rescue Breaths.  Minimise, as far as possible, interruptions in chest compression
  • Continue to follow the AED prompts until
  • Qualified help arrives
  • Someone else can take over
  • The casualty starts to show signs of regaining consciousness, such as coughing, opening his eyes, speaking, or moving purposefully AND starts to breathe normally
  • You become exhausted.


1)    Make sure you have back up on the way – Ambulance

2)    Start CPR straight away – CPR buys time for defibrillation

3)    Get a AED on ASAP

4)    Get them to Hospital for Advanced Life Support

The smaller the time between the links, the greater the chance of survival.


  • Following a Cardiac Arrest, the chance of survival decreases by 10% for every minute passed. It is therefore crucial that life support starts as soon as possible.
  • Survival rates with CPR and delayed defibrillation can be as little as 5%
  • Survival rates with good CPR and early defibrillation can be up to 50%.
  • It is estimated that there are around 60,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK each year.  Survival across the UK is variable, but currently only 2-12 per cent cardiac arrest casualties survive.
  • This could change if there were more AED’s placed in the community ready for use by the public.


    Cardiac Arrest – AED sign

If an AED is present in a building, shop or public area there will be a sign similar to this one below.

AED’s are expensive but with a group of local business, public donations and some fundraising, AED’s can become affordable for a small town, high street or village.

AED’s range in price from approximately £850 to £3000 but will save lives.

Modern defibrillators are very reliable, however there are essential components that have an expiry date and must be replaced. These include electrode pads, which last for about two years, and need to be replaced (or replaced after use) at a cost of about £20 per pair.

The defibrillator battery can last approximately four years on standby or can have a usage time of around 720 minutes or 300 shocks. New batteries cost about £150 to replace.

If you would like some advice on this subject on first aid in general please do not hesitate in contacting us at:


Mobile:            07968770756.




Published on February 4th, 2014 and is filed under Blog.

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