The Chain of Survival: How to Increase Chances of Survival During a Cardiac Arrest

28th April 2023 - Rob Stanway

“The only damage you can do to someone with an AED is if you whack them around the head with it!” – Douglas Chamberlain, Cardiologist, founder of the Resus Council and one of the main proponents of CPR and paramedics in the UK.
Do you know what to do if someone around you experiences cardiac arrest? When someone has a cardiac arrest, it is a life-threatening emergency that requires immediate attention. Every second counts when saving someone’s life and having the correct knowledge can significantly increase the chances of survival from this event. Each year, 30,000 people receive resuscitation for an Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA) in the UK, and Sudden Cardiac Arrest kills approximately 100,000 people a year in the UK.
The Chain of Survival is an important concept in understanding how to increase the chances of survival for victims affected by cardiac arrest. The Chain of Survival comprises four critical links that need to come together simultaneously during a cardiac emergency– call 999, early CPR, early defibrillation and early advanced care. This blog will detail what a cardiac arrest is, the role of the Chain of Survival in increasing chances of survival, and how to perform CPR.

WHAT IS A CARDIAC ARREST?
A cardiac arrest is when your heart suddenly stops pumping blood around your body. A cardiac arrest is caused by a dangerous abnormal heart rhythm (arrhythmia), which happens when the electrical system in the heart isn’t working properly.
Ventricular fibrillation (VF) is an example of a dangerous heart rhythm that can lead to cardiac arrest. This is when the heart quivers or ‘fibrillates’ instead of pumping blood.
Cardiac arrest isn’t the same as a heart attack. The heart is still pumping blood around the body during a heart attack, and the patient will usually be conscious and breathing. However, a heart attack can lead to cardiac arrest if left untreated.
A cardiac arrest is an emergency. Call 999, start CPR, and send for an AED/defibrillator if there is one nearby. Follow instructions from the 999 operator until emergency services take over.

WHAT IS THE CHAIN OF SURVIVAL?
There are a few key steps that can help to improve survival from cardiac arrest, and these have been formulated into a Chain of Survival.
There are 4 key steps in the Chain of Survival:

1) CALL 999
Early recognition of a cardiac arrest is vital due to the brain injury which occurs within minutes of loss of blood flow. Call 999, stay calm and answer all the questions clearly.
This will ensure the right help is sent to you as quickly as possible.

2) EARLY CPR
Chest compressions should be started immediately after a person collapses. Early and effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is vital to improving cardiac arrest survival.
You can watch how to perform hands-only CPR HERE.
Strengthening the Chain of Survival by knowing when and how to perform CPR, can double or even triple a cardiac arrest victim’s chance of survival.

3) EARLY DEFIBRILLATION
Public access defibrillators are designed to be used by the public. The earlier you can use a defibrillator to give the heart a shock, the better the patient is likely to do. Whilst performing CPR, ask someone to go and find an AED for you. Do not leave the patient.
There is no need to feel nervous about using a defibrillator as the machine will guide you through the process in small, easy steps.

4) EARLY ADVANCED CARE
When a person is in cardiac arrest you should continue to provide CPR and defibrillation until the emergency services arrive.

WAYS TO INCREASE THE CHANCE OF SURVIVAL
Early CPR and defibrillation can double or even triple a patient’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest.
Without chest compressions or a defibrillator, the chances of survival decrease by 10% every minute.
The worst thing that you can do is nothing. Though some people may be wary about using a defibrillator and harming the patient with it, cardiologist Douglas Chamberlain stated that “the only damage you can do to someone with an AED, is if you whack them around the head with it!”
Basic first aid and lifesaving skills like CPR are easy to learn and could make all the difference in a life-threatening situation, such as a work colleague, family member or even a stranger on the street going into cardiac arrest.
Many of us will witness a cardiac arrest in our lifetime. Be ready for that day by learning how to do CPR. You can do so by clicking HERE. The course lasts 15 minutes, and the only equipment you need is a cushion!

HOW TO PERFORM CPR
Without CPR, the person will die within minutes. You should only do CPR if the person is:
• Unconscious and not breathing
• Unconscious and not breathing properly
The British Heart Foundation have a 15-minute mobile CPR class that you can do anywhere. It shows you how to do CPR and save someone’s life, and the only equipment you need is a cushion.
CPR needs to be done at a rhythm of 100 – 120 bpm. You can discover which of your favourite songs have the perfect beat to perform CPR to HERE.

HOW AEDdonate CAN HELP
Our goal at AEDdonate is to help your community be prepared in the event of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). Whatever you need, whether it’s a village, workplace, sports facility, school, or simply your local telephone box, AEDdonate can provide you with a one-stop service to make sure there are no weak links in the chain of survival.
AEDdonate is committed to improving survival from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests, supporting the placement and use of Automated External Defibrillators (AED) in local communities.
We achieve this by allowing communities to fundraise or purchase an AED which can then be registered with your local Ambulance Trust for use in an Emergency.
This will help protect communities from the UK’s biggest killer, Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). By working together, we CAN save lives.

CONTACT US today about to apply for funding to get a defibrillator in your area, or CLICK HERE to donate.
You can also SIGN UP to one of our free zoom awareness sessions where you will have the opportunity to learn how to give lifesaving treatment, speak to one of our community defibrillator experts and ask any burning questions in relation to the topic.

You can spread the word about the Chain of Survival by sharing our reel HERE.

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