October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month

Along with Fire Prevention Week, and Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October is also Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) Awareness Month.  Each year, over 300,000 people die from an Out-of-Hospital Sudden Cardiac Arrest – more than HIV/AIDS, Breast Cancer, Lung Cancer and Fires combined. It is critical that everyone recognizes the importance of having AEDs available throughout our communities and that we encourage AED/CPR training and have an emergency plan should someone collapse due to SCA.

When someone has a sudden cardiac arrest, there is a critical 3-5 minute window for that person to be saved. The ONLY definitive treatment for SCA is quick bystander CPR and use of an AED. Nationwide, the average survival rate from SCA is a dismal 7%. Fortunately, in our region we see rates upwards of 30-40%, largely due to individuals, businesses, organizations and emergency response agencies providing a rapid response with bystander CPR and use of an AED. Lives are saved when YOU take it upon yourself to know and implement the chain of survival!

The five links in the American Heart Association‘s adult Chain of Survival are:

1) Immediate recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system. Check for ‘signs of life’ including abnormal breathing, no breathing, unresponsive, poor color and seizure-like activity.

2) Early CPR with an emphasis on hard, fast chest compressions.

3) Rapid defibrillation with an Automatic External Defibrillator. Know where the closest AED is, and don’t be afraid to use it!

4) Early access to advanced life support.

5) Integrated post-cardiac arrest care.

Earlier this year legislation was passed in MN to ensure that starting in 2014, all high school students in MN will receive CPR and AED training by the time they graduate.  This is an excellent step in ensuring as many people as possible learn these valuable life-saving skills.

Locally, the Western MN Chapter of the Sudden Cardiac Arrest Association strives to fulfill the mission of the SCAA, which is to improve bystander and emergency response, and promote wider deployment of public-access AEDs.  Through our ‘How To Save A Life’ program, and in partnership with Ringdahl EMS, Stevens County EMS and other EMS organizations, we train thousands of people each year across Minnesota and North Dakota. We also work with local businesses and organizations to implement and maintain AED programs in their homes, businesses, schools and churches.

SCAA is the nation’s leading non-profit public advocacy organization exclusively dedicated to sudden cardiac arrest awareness and prevention. Our Western Minnesota Chapter of the SCAA is led by Randy Fischer. Fischer is a longtime advocate for CPR and AED education and developed the ‘How To Save A Life’ program.

For more information, visit suddencardiacarrest.org or facebook.com/mnscaa. For educational resources, call 1-855-88-SAFETY or contact your local EMS organization. It is our responsibility as a community to shed light on Sudden Cardiac Arrest — and save lives by knowing and implementing the Chain of Survival!