Let’s begin this article with some urgent facts about reality in Australia: cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death in the country, and when compared to heart attacks, it is by far the more lethal affliction between the two. A heart attack ensues because of a blocked artery, while cardiac arrest is an electrical problem of the heart that restricts the beating of the heart muscle. And while those suffering from a heart attack are noted to be conscious and breathing while it transpires, those undergoing sudden cardiac arrest will fall unconscious and not be able to breathe properly, often gasping for air.
About 20,000 Australians experience cardiac arrest outside of the hospital, and sadly, only 10 percent of cardiac arrest victims survive. A singular victim can go completely brain-dead within 4 to 6 minutes after cardiac arrest and possibly die in as little as 10 minutes. Therefore, if there is no intervention within 8 minutes of cardiac arrest, chances of survival are slim.
Luckily, such quick intervention is possible through the use of a device called an automated external defibrillator, or AED for short. This light, portable, and compact machine restores the heart’s muscle contraction, much like giving it a jump start to begin beating again. Outside of hospitals, clinics, and ambulances, AEDs can now be found in many home and office emergency kits. Circa 2017, there was also a wide clamour from citizens of New South Wales to make AEDs mandatory on public buses and trains.
But due to a number of factors—such as panic in emergency situations, hesitance with technology, or belief that cardiac arrest transpires in real life just like it does in the movies—people foster an initial suspicion towards AEDs. Certain myths about the machine live on, and these can deter the proper use of these life-saving devices. In the hope that more ordinary Australian citizens can learn to use this machine in case of dire emergency, and consequently save someone else’s life, this article will debunk 4 common myths about AEDs.
If you are ever caught in a situation where someone is undergoing cardiac arrest, here are some tips to maximise the effect of the AED:
This wraps up a treatise on the myths behind AED machines, as well as an introduction on how to use them properly. Hopefully this helps in beating the odds against cardiac arrest and upholding two sensibilities: your faith in your ability to save your fellowman, and your knowledge on the tools that will help you do so.
Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute, replace, or qualify as RPL for our first aid training courses.
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