Top 10 take-home messages

Here are the top 10 take-home messages every community needs to know:

  1. Sudden cardiac arrest is one of the leading causes of death among adults in North America.
  2. A combination of early access, early CPR, early defibrillation and early advanced care can save as many as one-third to one-half of sudden cardiac arrest victims in treatable heart rhythms.
  3. The shorter the time from collapse to defibrillation, the better the chances of survival.
  4. Anyone who has a duty to respond to victims of sudden cardiac arrest should be trained and equipped with an AED.
  5. Communities that implement AED programs must abide by federal and state laws and regulations; organizations that adopt AED programs are at the lowest risk of liability;
  6. It is essential for AED programs to have Medical Directors.
  7. AEDs are simple to use; training takes about two to four hours and established training programs are readily available.
  8. Creating public awareness and support for your community AED program requires teamwork, but is well worth the effort.
  9. Finding funding for your AED program may be easier than you think;
  10. Well-planned AED programs are generally cost-effective, especially when compared with other public health initiatives.

Now that you know the facts, do you think your community is ready to handle sudden cardiac arrest ? To find out, complete this checklist.

Sudden cardiac arrest community readiness checklist

Early access

  • Does your community have Enhanced 9-1-1 coverage?
  • Does the public know how to recognize a cardiac emergency?
  • Does the public know to call 9-1-1 (or the local emergency number) immediately in the event of an apparent cardiac emergency?

Early CPR

  • Are emergency dispatchers trained to give callers instructions in CPR?
  • Is most of the teen and adult population trained in CPR?

Early defibrillation

  • Do state laws and regulations permit first-arriving emergency personnel and trained laypersons to use defibrillators?
  • Are all first-responding emergency personnel equipped with defibrillators?
  • Are these personnel trained to deliver the first shock within 60 seconds of their arrival?
  • Is the average "call-to shock" time five minutes or less in at least 90 percent of cases?

Early advanced care

  • Does your community have paramedics or emergency physicians prepared to provide early advanced care?

If you can answer "yes" to all these questions, the Chain of Survival in your community is working well. If your community is like most, however, there is plenty of room for improvement. Why not start today?