With school back in full swing again, teachers, coaches and other faculty members must strive to create a safe environment for every child that walks through their doors. Having that responsibility is big, but creating a little piece of mind by implementing automated external defibrillators (AEDs) in schools is even bigger. When we lose nearly 7,000 young people to sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) each year, it’s hard not to concern ourselves with the best way to respond should it strike during school hours. Not every school can afford to have emergency personnel on the premises, so having a life-saving source is key — especially when the AED is designed to walk any rescuer through defibrillation and CPR using voice prompts.
Despite the fact SCA can strike at any time in people of all ages and fitness levels, only 17 out of 50 states in the U.S. are required to install AEDs in schools, says an analysis published in the Journal of the American College Cardiology. This seems like an impossible number of states without the requirement for AEDs in schools, especially considering that defibrillation within three minutes of SCA can increase a person’s survival to 70 percent.
Often times, SCA occurs in young persons between the ages 10-19 years old; however, it can still strike in children of all ages without warning. According to the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, two-thirds of SCA-related deaths in children happen during exercise or activity. With this in mind, preparation for such a tragic event can start with simple CPR, AED and first training.
Knowing that AEDs are crucial to increasing someone’s survival rate, there’s no question as to why they’re needed in schools. So, before investing in an AED at your facility, you first want to be sure it’s affordable, reliable and, most importantly, easy to use. Fortunately, models like the Zoll AED Plus and the HeartSine Samaritan PAD 350P can offer a solution. Both of these affordable, lifesaving devices use voice prompts, which helps guide any rescuer through the resuscitation process. This allows the user to feel confident in their rescuing abilities during a very high stress situation.
EMS responders play a critical role in the treatment and, potentially, the prevention of the opioid epidemic we face today. Due to the staggering amount of deaths to opioid overdoses, it has been deemed a public health crisis. Opioids are responsible for decreasing the sensation of pain for the user by stimulating certain receptors in the brain. The lack of any perceived pain induces a feeling of euphoria- the feeling chased by opioid abusers.
The umbrella of opioids include heroin and several prescription painkillers such as methadone, oxycodone, hydrocodone, morphine and fentanyl. During an opioid overdose, the patient experiences difficulty breathing and often respiratory arrest. Unfortunately, following respiratory arrest, a common secondary outcome of an opioid overdose occurs: cardiac arrest.
EMS responders often use naloxone which reverses the effects of opioid overdose, making it possible for the patient to breathe again. This drug is time sensitive and administering it can be a risky decision. Naloxone can prompt narcotic withdrawal symptoms and if it is administered too aggressively, the patient may have violent reactions. Since cardiac arrest frequently follows respiratory arrest, it is important to check the patient’s pulse and have an AED nearby in case the patient needs to be resuscitated. It is important to abide by the local rules if you have to administer naloxone to a patient in cardiac arrest.
With the help of properly and safely administered naloxone and timely use of an AED, many lives can and will be saved. EMS responders play a vital role in helping to decrease opioid overdoses every day. With the proper rehabilitation and education opportunities, this public health crisis may, one day, be less prevalent.
For more information about cardiac emergency preparedness, please visit www.aed.com.
Though heart attack and cardiac arrest may sound similar, these medical emergencies could not be more different. A person suffering from a heart attack has a blocked artery preventing the blood flow to the heart, while a cardiac arrest is a result of an electrical disturbance in heart. This malfunction causes an irregular heartbeat, which prevents blood from pumping to the brain, lungs and other organs.
Recognize the symptoms
The symptoms of a cardiac arrest and heart attack are drastically different. In moments, a person can go into cardiac arrest. Usually, a victim will become unresponsive and stop breathing unexpectedly or start gasping for air. Whereas for a heart attack, symptoms can be immediate, but also have the potential to start out slowly, lasting for hours, days or even weeks prior to a heart attack. Major symptoms include shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea, and vomiting. It could also cause a strong discomfort in the chest as well as other parts of the upper body. Women may experience different symptoms than men such as back or jaw pain.
How to respond to both
Call 9-1-1. If a person believes he or she is having a heart attack or cardiac arrest, do not hesitate to call 9-1-1. Regardless of whether or not you know the type of emergency, it’s important to get help on the way as soon as possible. The sooner emergency medical services arrive, the faster they can start treatment. Remember, every second counts! For some victims, a cardiac arrest or heart attack can be reversible if treated in time.
Take action. Is it a cardiac arrest? Start preforming CPR right away. Should an automated external defibrillator (AED) be available, quickly use it to help the victim. If possible, have a second person call the emergency number while responding to the person in need of treatment.