By Dianne Rende
An employee is suffering cardiac arrest and the ambulance is on its way. But the clock is ticking and you know that a maximum of 10 valuable minutes could mean the difference between life and death. A first aid course held at your company included Automated External Defibrillation (AED) training and fortunately, you recognized that having a defibrillator on site just might save a life. That training and the simplicity of the unit is now paying off, allowing you to remain calm and able to deal with a difficult situation until the paramedics arrive and take over.
Is your workplace prepared for such an event?
Cardiac arrests are likely to happen with increasing frequency due to the aging workforce population. The outcome can depend on the workplace’s investment in their health and safety program.
As soon as a person hits the floor, the clock starts. According to the Public Health Agency of Canada, every minute that passes without medical assistance reduces an individual’s chances of survival by 10 per cent. Early administration of CPR and an AED can drastically increase a victim’s chance of surviving until he reaches the hospital. In almost every instance of collapse an individual’s survival is in the hands of surrounding bystanders.
Should you invest in an AED for your workplace? Consider how long it would take a paramedic to arrive to your address and get to an employee who is in the most distant area of your facility. How many minutes have elapsed? An AED is most effective if applied to the casualty within the first 10 minutes.
AEDs have become simple and economical. Most AEDs are lightweight, compact, easy to use and include visual and voice prompts which guide the user through the operation of the machine. AEDs have dropped considerably in price. At one time a unit may have cost as much as $10,000, but today they are much closer to $1,000. A small investment with a potentially very large return.
The Ontario government passed the Chase McEachern Act in 2007 which protects people from liability if they assist someone using a defibrillator in good faith. With this protection in place, public access defibrillation programs have expanded. Other jurisdictions have similar legislation in place.
It’s a good time to check if employee first aid and CPR training is up-to-date and consider adding an AED to the health and safety budget.