Get the Assist: Save a Teammate’s Life

Calling all athletes! If you were practicing or working out with your teammates when your coach and athletic trainer would not around would you be able to help in an emergency situation? If one of your teammates went into cardiac arrest, would you be able to GET THE ASSIST and HELP SAVE THEIR LIFE?

Watch this In A Heartbeat video to learn how to get the assist and save a life. 

In A Heartbeat is a nonprofit organization with the mission to prevent death from sudden cardiac arrest and Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) by raising awareness, enabling research, donating AEDs, and providing free ECGs for children, teens, and young adults.

About Sudden Cardiac Arrest

What is sudden cardiac arrest (SCA)?

Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is a life-threatening emergency that occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. It strikes people of all ages who may seem to be healthy, even children and teens.

When SCA happens, the person collapses and doesn’t respond or breathe normally. They may gasp or shake as if having a seizure.

SCA leads to death in minutes if the person does not get help right away. Survival depends on people nearby calling 911, starting CPR, and using an AED (if available) as soon as possible.

Is SCA the same as a heart attack?

No. Both the heart attack (myocardial infarction) and a sudden cardiac arrest have to do with the heart, but they are different problems. SCA is an electrical problem; a heart attack is a “plumbing” problem. Sometimes a heart attack, which may not be fatal in itself, can trigger a sudden cardiac arrest.

Prevention

What is the recommended treatment for SCA?

Defibrillation is the only treatment proven to restore a normal heart rhythm. When used on a victim of SCA, the automated external defibrillator (AED) can be used to administer a lifesaving electric shock that restores the heart's rhythm to normal. AEDs are designed to allow non-medical personnel to save lives.

How much time do I have to respond if someone has a sudden cardiac arrest?

Only minutes. Defibrillate within three minutes and the chances of survival are 70 percent. After 10 minutes, the chances of survival are very slim.

How does an AED work?

Two pads, connected to the AED, are placed on the patient's chest. A computer inside the AED analyzes the patient's heart rhythm and determines if a shock is required to save the victim. If a shock is required, the AED uses voice instructions to guide the user through saving the person's life.

Why are AEDs important?

AEDs make it possible for more people to respond to a medical emergency where defibrillation is required. Because AEDs are portable, they can be used by nonmedical people (lay-rescuers). They can be made part of emergency response programs that also include rapid use of 9-1-1 and prompt delivery of cardio pulmonary resuscitation (CPR). All three of these activities are vital to improving survival from SCA.

Who can use an AED?

Non-medical personnel such as police, fire service personnel, flight attendants, security guards and other lay rescuers who have been trained in CPR can use AEDs.

Although formal training in the use of an AED is not required, it is recommended to help the rescuer increase their comfort and level of confidence. However, AEDs are intended for use by the general public. Most AEDs use audible voice prompts to guide the user through the process.

Are AEDs safe to use?

AEDs are safe to use by anyone. Some studies have shown that 90 percent of the time AEDs are able to detect a rhythm that should be defibrillated. This data suggests that AEDs are highly effective in detecting when (or when not) to deliver a shock.

Where should AEDs be placed?

All first-response vehicles, including ambulances, law- enforcement vehicles and many fire engines should have an AED.

AEDs also should be placed in public areas such as sports venues, shopping malls, airports, airplanes, businesses, convention centers, hotels, schools and doctors' offices. They should also be in any other public or private place where large numbers of people gather or where people at high risk for heart attacks live. They should be placed near elevators, cafeterias, main reception areas, and on walls in main corridors.

Why do we need AEDs?

AEDs save lives. When a person has a sudden cardiac arrest, the heart becomes arrhythmic. Every minute that the heart is not beating lowers the odds of survival by 7-10 percent. After 10 minutes without defibrillation, very few people survive.

Is an AED complicated to use?

AEDs are very easy to use. An AED can be used by practically anyone who has been shown what to do. In fact, there are a number of cases where people with no training at all have saved lives.

Can a non-medical person make a mistake when using an AED?

AEDs are safe to use by anyone who has been shown how to use them. The AED's voice guides the rescuer through the steps involved in saving someone; for example, "apply pads to patient's bare chest" (the pads themselves have pictures of where they should be placed) and "press red shock button." Furthermore, safeguards have been designed into the unit precisely so that non-medical responders can't use the AED to shock someone who doesn't need a shock.

Can I be sued if I help someone suffering from SCA?

State and federal "Good Samaritan" laws cover users who, in good faith, attempt to save a person from death. To date, there are no known judgments against anyone who used an AED to save someone's life.

Additional Resources

In A Heartbeat
In A Heartbeat is a nonprofit organization with the mission to prevent death from sudden cardiac arrest and Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) by raising awareness, enabling research, donating AEDs, and providing free ECGs for children, teens, and young adults.

American Heart Association's Hands-only CPR Program
Access American Heart Association resources for Hands-Only CPR, including videos and printable resources.

Call-Push-Shock
CALL-PUSH-SHOCK is a national collaborative movement with a mission to motivate bystander CPR/AED action and increase sudden cardiac arrest survival.

Parent Heart Watch
Learn CPR at home

Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation
A resource for information about Sudden Cardiac Arrest