Cardiac Arrest Survival

In the United States many people die each year from cardiac or respiratory arrest.  In a cardiac arrest, a person's heart muscle suddenly stops beating or begins contracting abnormally.  Often these people are with their friends or loved ones at the time of arrest.  If this happens to one of those that you love you could be the first step in helping save your loved one.  The American Heart Association define four steps in a person's survival from cardiac arrest.  These are early access, early CPR, early defibrillation and early advanced care.

In the event of an emergency early access to EMS care can be the difference between life and death.  If someone immediately begins showing signs of heart trouble or suddenly becomes unconscious, immediately call 911.  Remain as calm as possible and speak clearly to the dispatcher.  Provide an explanation of what happened so that the dispatcher can give the paramedics a clear description of what to expect.

When a person stops breathing and their heart stops beating you have several minutes before their organs and tissues begin to die from a lack of oxygen and nutrients.  It is vital for a person's survival to have their blood circulation and breathing restored.  Cardiopulmonary Respiration (CPR) can be the immediate life saving action that can temporarily restore circulation and breathing until a person can accomplish these on their own.  This is accomplished by manually forcing blood through the heart and oxygen into a person's lungs.  It is necessary for health care professionals to be certified in giving CPR and it is extremely helpful for citizens to be certified as well.  The fire department frequently offers classes for CPR certification.  For more information contact the fire station.

The proper functioning of the heart is vital for life.  Normally the contraction of the muscle fibers are all coordinated so as to provide an efficient pumping action of blood.  During a typical contraction an electrical impulse is generated at the SA node of the heart.  This wave of electrical current travels along the atria of the heart causing them to contract forcing blood into the heart's ventricles.  At the junction between the atria and ventricles the electrical impulse travels through the AV node.  From there the current conducts through the AV bundles and to the muscle fibers of the right and left ventricles.  When this systematic conduction of electrical signals becomes blocked or malfunctions the result is a uncoordinated and ineffective beating of the heart.  In the most severe form, the muscle appears to quiver and heart is not able to pump blood at all.  This is known as ventricular fibrillation.  In this instance an electric shock, call defibrillation, can cause the heart muscle fibers to regain their coordination and cause the heart to beat again.  Obviously, defibrillation is most effective when it is performed as soon after a person begins to experience ventricular fibrillation.  This life saving measure has become common protocol in hospitals and on ALS and BLS ambulance units.

The final link in the chain of survival is early advanced care.  It is vital for a patient who is experiencing cardiac arrest to be given advanced medical care in the hospital.  The medical personnel in hospital emergency rooms and intensive care units have the capability to monitor a patients cardiac rhythm and provide medical procedures and administer medications that will attempt to return a patient to a normal status.

This page is meant for public education in basic medical safety issues.  The Cedarville Township Fire Department is not responsible for any further complications resulting from improper use of information contained on this page.

Cedarville Township Volunteer Fire Department
19 South St.
Cedarville, OH, 45314
Phone: 937-766-5851 - Email: