Date & Times of this year's event.
Saturday, February 5, 2011.
English language classes at 8, 9, & 10:00 a.m. Spanish Language class at 11:00 a.m.

Q: What is sudden cardiac arrest?

Sudden cardiac arrest means that the heart unexpectedly and abruptly quits beating. This is usually caused by an abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation.

Q: Is sudden cardiac arrest the same as a heart attack?

No. A heart attack is a condition in which the blood supply to the heart muscle is suddenly blocked, resulting in the death of the heart muscle. Heart attack victims usually (but not always) experience chest pain and usually remain conscious. Heart attacks are serious and sometimes will lead to sudden cardiac arrest. However, sudden cardiac arrest may occur independently from a heart attack and without warning signs. Sudden cardiac arrest results in death if not treated immediately.

Q: Who is at risk for sudden cardiac arrest?

While the average age of sudden cardiac arrest victims is about 65, sudden cardiac arrest is unpredictable and can strike anyone, anywhere, anytime.

Q: What is ventricular fibrillation?

Ventricular fibrillation (VF) is an abnormal heart rhythm often seen in sudden cardiac arrest. This rhythm is caused by an abnormal and very fast electrical activity in the heart. VF is chaotic and unorganized; the heart just quivers and cannot effectively pump blood. VF will be short lived and deteriorate to asystole (a flat line) if not treated promptly.

Q: How is ventricular fibrillation treated?

The only effective treatment for VF is an electrical shock called defibrillation. Defibrillation is an electrical current applied to the chest. The electrical current passes through the heart with the goal of stopping the VF and giving an opportunity for the heart's normal electrical system to take control. This current helps the heart reorganize the electrical activity so it can pump blood again. An automated external defibrillator (AED) can defibrillate the heart.

Q: What does AED stand for?

AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator.

Q: What is an AED?

An AED is a device used to administer an electric shock through the chest wall to the heart.

Q: How does an AED work?

A microprocessor inside the defibrillator interprets (analyzes) the victim's heart rhythm through adhesive electrodes and advises the operator whether a shock is needed. AED's advise a shock only for ventricular fibrillation and fast ventricular tachycardia. The electric current is delivered through the victim's chest wall through adhesive electrode pads. Audible and/or visual prompts guide the user through the process.

Q: Why are AED's important?

AED's strengthen the chain of survival. They can restore a normal heart rhythm in sudden cardiac arrest victims. Also, new portable models allow more people to respond to a medical emergency where defibrillation is required. After sudden cardiac arrest, chance of survival decreases by 7-10 percent each minute that passes without defibrillation. AED's save lives!

Q: Should I do CPR first or apply the AED?

Do CPR only until the AED arrives. Apply the electrodes to the patient's bare chest and follow the voice prompts and messages of the AED. It will tell you when to resume CPR. CPR is a holding action until the heart is defibrillated.

Q: If defibrillation is so important, why should I do CPR?

CPR provides some circulation of oxygen rich blood to the victim's heart and brain. This circulation delays both brain death and the death of heart muscle. CPR buys some time until the AED can arrive and also makes the heart more likely to respond to defibrillation.

Q: Will I hurt the patient by using the AED?

When used on persons who are unresponsive, not breathing and have no detectable pulse, the AED is extremely safe. The AED makes shock delivery decisions based upon the patient's heart rhythm, and will not allow a shock to be delivered if not needed. The machine will not let you shock a non-shockable rhythm.

Q: What if I'm not certain whether or not I need to apply the defibrillator?

Remember this rule: only put the unit on someone you would do CPR on--unresponsive not breathing and no pulse.

Q: Do I need to remove the defibrillator pads before doing chest compressions?

No. The pads remain on throughout the resuscitation and until the patient is transferred to advanced care providers such as the paramedics. If the pads are in their correct locations on the passenger's chest, they will not interfere with proper hand placement or compressions. When doing compressions, make sure the cable is not under your hands.

Q: How much of the patient's clothing needs to be removed to carry out defibrillation?

The chest should be exposed to allow placement of the disposable defibrillation electrodes. A women's bra should be removed. Clothes may need to be cut off to facilitate early defibrillation.

Q: Once I have successfully defibrillated the patient and a normal pulse has returned, do I keep the AED on the patient?

Yes, even after a patient has been successfully defibrillated, he/she is at risk of developing ventricular fibrillation again. The AED will continually monitor the victim for the return of VF. If VF is suspected, the device will automatically begin to analyze patient after 1 minute of CPR is complete. The AED should be left on until emergency personnel assume responsibility for the patient. The defibrillation pads (electrodes) are disposable.

Q: What if the victim regains a pulse but is not breathing or is breathing slowly?

You should give rescue breaths at a rate of one every 5 seconds or 12 per minute.

Q: If the patient is breathing and regains a pulse should the victim be placed back in a seat?

No, leave the patient on the floor; monitor pulse, breathing and blood pressure closely. Place the patient in the "rescue" or side position, keep them warm, administer oxygen, and continue to monitor closely.

Q: What if I don't perform all the steps of CPR and defibrillation perfectly?

A cardiac arrest is a high stress situation. Even experienced health care providers do not do everything perfectly. In a cardiac arrest, performing CPR, even imperfectly, and using a defibrillator can only help the patient.

Q: What if I forget the steps for using the AED?

The steps for shocking a patient in cardiac arrest are simple and straightforward. The AED Plus provides the visual and audio prompts required for the entire resuscitation process. The most difficult part is recognizing the need for defibrillation.

Q: What if I can't hear the voice prompts of the AED?

Look for the visual text prompts on the AED screen.

Q: What if I mistakenly apply the AED to someone who fainted but still has a pulse, which I couldn't feel?

The AED is designed not to advise a shock for a patient with a non-shockable rhythm. It would be very difficult to harm a patient even in such circumstances.

Q: Do patients "jump" when a shock is delivered?

Most will "jump" slightly although not to the extent seen on many television shows.

Q: Can I defibrillate on a wet surface?

Yes, as long as the usual safety rules are observed. Be sure the victim's chest is wiped dry. Keep the defibrillation electrodes away from a damp or conductive surface. Clear the victim and defibrillate as usual.

Q: Can I defibrillate on or near a metal surface?

Yes, as long as the usual safety rules are observed. Keep the defibrillation electrodes away from contact with the conductive surface. Clear the victim and defibrillate as usual. Be sure not to allow anyone to touch the passenger when the shock is delivered.

Q: Why is it so important to be sure that the defibrillation electrodes are firmly adhered to a clean, dry chest?

Successful defibrillation requires electricity to flow from one electrode to the other through the chest. If the electrodes are not firmly adhered and there is sweat or another conductive material between the electrodes, the electricity will be more likely to flow across the chest rather than through it. This will result in ineffective defibrillation and an increased chance of sparks and fire. (This is the main reason for removing therapeutic oxygen from the immediate vicinity of the victim.)

Q: Is it okay to place the electrodes directly on a hairy chest?

Electrodes must come in direct contact with the skin. If the chest hair is so excessive as to prevent good adhesion of the electrode, the hair must be removed quickly.

Q: What if the patient has a medication patch on or EKG electrodes on the chest where I want to place the defibrillation pads?

Never place AED electrode pads directly on top of medication patches, such as nitroglycerin, or EKG patches. Patches should always be removed and the skin wiped dry before placing defibrillator pads on the skin.

Q: Can I accidentally shock another rescuer or myself?

AEDs are extremely safe when used properly. The electric shock is programmed to go from one pad to another through the victim's chest. Basic precautions, such a verbally warning others to stand clear and visually checking the area before and during the shock, will virtually ensure the safety of rescuers.

Q: What if I have a child victim?

Follow your protocols regarding the lower age or size limits for children. The American Heart Association recommends no one under 8 years old receive defibrillation with an automated external defibrillator.

Q: Should I use the AED if the patient has a pacemaker or is pregnant?

Yes, never withhold AED use in a person in cardiac arrest (unresponsive, not breathing, no pulse).

Q: I placed the AED on a patient who had a cardiac arrest and the machine always prompted "no shock advised. Even with CPR the passenger did not survive. Why didn't the AED shock this victim?

Although ventricular fibrillation (VF) is the most common rhythm in cardiac arrest it is not the only one. The AED will only shock VF. There are other heart rhythms associated with cardiac arrest that are not treated with defibrillation "shocks". A "no shock advised" message doesn't mean the victim's rhythm is back to normal. This is why a pulse check must always be done after a "no shock advised" prompt.

Q: I shocked a woman in cardiac arrest 3 times within minutes after she collapsed. I heard later that she did not survive. Did I do something wrong?

Unfortunately, because of other underlying medical or heart problems, not all victims of cardiac arrest who are in ventricular fibrillation (VF) will survive even if defibrillation is done promptly and correctly

Q: What's the difference between the AEDs and the defibrillators that are shown on TV?

The defibrillators often shown on TV are called "manual defibrillators." A manual defibrillator is not "automated" the defibrillator does not interpret the need for defibrillation. Trained medical personnel interpret the heart's rhythms and make the decision whether to shock the patient or not. The shock can be delivered by the use of paddles or defibrillation pads.

Q: Do all physicians and nurses know how to defibrillate?

Not all physicians and nurses know how to defibrillate, or they may not be familiar with the type of defibrillator you are using. Once you have been trained, continue to use it. Medical personnel may be needed to administer drugs, and give other advanced medical care.

Q: Who is using AED's today?

Flight attendants, firefighters, cruise ship personnel, police officers, health club employees, security guards, EMT's, lifeguards, golf pros, students, physicians, nursing home staff, residential homes staff, restaurant personnel and corporate emergency response teams.

Q: Can I be sued using the defibrillator?

To date there has never been a case where someone was held liable for using an AED, but as you know, anyone can be sued. Likewise, most states have passed "Good Samaritan" legislation protecting the lay rescuer from lawsuits.

Q: What's public access to defibrillation?

Public access to defibrillation means making AEDs available in public and/or private places where large numbers of people gather or where people who are at high risk for heart attacks live.