The possibility of a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in the workplace is ever-present which can plague all of us whether in management or labor positions. The personal loss from losing a valued employee or a dear co-worker is something that is shared by many. Added to that is the potential legal liability for a visitor suffering an SCA and succumbing to its effects while on your premises. “How well is your workplace prepared for a sudden cardiac arrest?”
The likelihood of someone experiencing an SCA on your workplace property is unknown. You may have AEDs located around your facility that will sit idle for years and years, but, just like with smoke alarms and fire extinguishers, when you need them, they better work and your staff better know how to use them.
There are four basic things to keep in mind when determining how well you are prepared for an SCA in your workplace. They are:
- The number of AEDs you have on hand
- The location of those AEDs
- The ability of staff to recognize the need for, apply, and use those AEDs
- The continuing maintenance of the AEDs
Number of AEDs
The number of AEDs that you need to have on hand will be determined by the size and configuration of your workspace. Workspaces that are disjointed or occupy multiple floors require more AEDs than those that are all on one floor and occupying an open area. The key consideration is that you should have enough AEDs so that one is accessible within 90 seconds - a minute and a-half - from any place in the facility. This is required in order for someone to get an AED and take it to the person in need within three minutes. There is a 10% decrease in survival associated with every minute of delay in initiating CPR including external chest compression, with or without rescue breathing, and defibrillation with an AED.
Location of AEDs
AED placement is important. In addition to being within a 90 second reach, they also need to be visible and easily accessible.. A locked closet is NOT a good location. It is recommended to locate them in the same area as your fire extinguishers and fire alarms.
Training on Recognizing SCA and AED Use
One of the biggest barriers to the effective and immediate use of an AED is lack of familiarity and confidence in using it. Since an AED emits an electrical shock, it can cause some hesitancy for potential lay rescuers. This lack of confidence is best addressed through effective training. While this training needs to focus on the procedures involved in CPR and AED use, it also needs to instruct the staff members on the signs of a possible impending SCA. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has this to say, “Usually, the first sign of sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is loss of consciousness (fainting). At the same time, no heartbeat (or pulse) can be felt. Some people may have a racing heartbeat or feel dizzy or light-headed just before they faint. Within an hour before SCA, some people have chest pain, shortness of breath, nausea (feeling sick to the stomach), or vomiting.”
Just because someone is young doesn’t mean that they are immune to SCA. Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia notes that, “Every year, more than 2,000 children and teens die in the U.S. from sudden cardiac arrest (SCA).”
Hopefully, those AEDs that you have throughout your facility will never have to be used, but if they do need to be, they need to be in working order. Periodic maintenance is a must to keep the electrodes and batteries in proper working order. In fact, your company may be more legally liable for having an AED that doesn’t work properly when needed than if you had none at all. It is somewhat like having an insurance policy that you never want to have to use, but can’t afford to let lapse.
Rescue Ready® Services has solutions including PlusTrac™ AED Program Management, PlusCare™ Service & Maintenance, and PlusLearning™ Training. We can help you determine how many AEDs you need, where to place them, how to train your staff, and how to best maintain your AEDs in proper working order. Contact us here to find out how we can help.