Being bystander ready is all about having the knowledge, skills and equipment to act quickly in a medical emergency. With cardiac events such as sudden cardiac arrest (SCA), patients need help as quickly as possible, and rapid assistance from those people nearby dramatically increases their chances for survival. Here’s some insight about why bystander readiness is so important and how you, your family and co-workers can become part of a heart safe community.
The Important Role of Bystanders During Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Every year, around 2,000 people in New Zealand suffer from SCA, with only one in every ten patients surviving. There are two main reasons why the survival rate for SCA is so low:
- Firstly, it is a very serious cardiac event that causes the heart to stop beating and deprives the brain, heart and organ systems of oxygen almost immediately. Tragically, some SCA events are just too severe to survive.
- Secondly, patients need to receive treatment (which includes cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation) within the “Survival Gap”- the first 3-4 minutes after the SCA occurs in order to maximise their chance of survival and help prevent irreparable damage to the brain and organs. As a result, it is almost impossible for emergency services to reach SCA patients in time.
This is where bystanders become essential. By knowing how to recognise the signs of SCA, being able to perform CPR and knowing how to use a defibrillator to restart a heart, bystanders are in the critical position to help save more lives more often in the moments before emergency services arrive.
The 3 Steps Everyone Can Take to Become Bystander Ready
It’s easier than you think to become bystander ready! These 3 steps can help you potentially save a life:
- Education – Training is the first step, teaching you how to recognise when someone is experiencing SCA and how to act during this medical emergency in order to give them the best chance of survival. To help build heart safe communities, we’re offering you a free training program, the HeartSmart program, to teach you everything you need to know.
- Skills – Learn how to perform CPR on adults, children and infants, including CPR with and without rescue breaths. You will also learn how to use a defibrillator on someone experiencing SCA in order to restart their heart. It’s safe and simpler than you think, and you can practice these skills until you feel completely confident and ready to act!
- Equipment – CPR can only extend the Survival Gap for patients with SCA – only a defibrillator can treat this condition by supplying an electrical shock to restart the heart. Having an affordable, easy-to-use defibrillator like the CellAED® nearby in your community is the only way to provide the treatment an SCA patient needs within this critical window.
Who Should Become Bystander Ready
SCA is an unpredictable health condition that can strike without warning. While certain conditions like heart disease, heart attacks, cardiomyopathy, high blood pressure and diabetes increase your risk of SCA, it can also strike people who appear fit and healthy, regardless of their age, gender or ethnicity. Ideally, trained bystanders as well as defibrillators should be widely available in all communities, but it is especially important in the following spaces and organisations:
- Gyms, sports venues and fitness centres
- Schools and educational facilities
- Office buildings, construction sites and manufacturing facilities
- Remote hospitality facilities, campgrounds, hotels and cabins
- Neighbourhood watch groups, homes of high risk individuals, and multi-family buildings
Join the DefibsPlus New Zealand Heart Safe Community
At DefibsPlus, we are passionate about providing affordable, effective solutions that help improve the SCA survival rate. By providing free defibrillator and CPR training through the HeartSmart program, as well as supplying cost-effective defibrillators that are easy for anyone to use, we’re helping everyday people build healthier heart safe communities.