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Heart Attack or Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

by Greg Landin on 06/18/15

Often times sudden cardiac arrest is mistaken as a heart attack. Both conditions affect the heart, but what are the differences? Here’s the basic difference:

  • A heart attack is a circulation problem

  • Sudden cardiac arrest is an electrical problem

Heart Attack

Cause: A heart attack is caused by a blocked artery that stops the blood flow to the heart. Symptoms: The symptoms come on slowly (anywhere from hours to days) and can include chest pain, cold sweats, and nausea.

Treatment: Call 911

Cardiac Arrest

Cause: The heart malfunctions and sets into an irregular rhythm called arrhythmia. As a result, the heart cannot pump blood to other parts of the body.

Symptoms: The victim becomes unresponsive.

Treatment: Call 911, perform CPR and use an AED if present

Cardiac arrest is the leading cause of death. Outside a hospital setting, 360,000 people die annually in the US from cardiac arrest.

If you want to see a visual representation of the differences, the American Heart Association has a great infographic here

Does Cough CPR Actually Work?

by Greg Landin on 04/30/15

Don’t Trust Everything You Read Online!

A technique called cough CPR has been receiving a lot of attention from social media. This technique is not recommended by the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross. Cough CPR is a method of forcefully coughing in order to keep the blood flow to your brain and keep you from passing out during cardiac arrest. The main problem with cough CPR is that the victim is almost always unresponsive and therefore unable to cough. In the rare chance that the victim is responsive, cough CPR can delay other treatment that will be more effective. There is also a large risk that the victim will misjudge what condition they are experiencing.
You can read more about why AHA doesn’t recommend this method here.

Update on Cardiac Science accessories ordering

by Greg Landin on 04/14/14

Great product, horrible supply issues.  Yes, the backordering for any Cardiac Science items continues to plague our industry.  The company is trying to catch up, but in the meantime we all are still have challenges in getting supplies.  One way our company has approached this is to have a stock of batteries and pads in-house ready for distribution to our clients that subscribe to our AED Program Services package.  In the month of expiration, they will receive the battery or pads right on time.  For all others, I guess you will have to order all supplies two months in advance.  

CPR Compressions: Man or Machine?

by Greg Landin on 11/29/13

So just read another piece on the popularity of the mechanized CPR compressions by the Lucas Device.  Having performed CPR thousands of times over a 30 year career I have mixed feelings on this topic.  Early versions of an "auto-pump" type of device were cumbersome to apply and the power supplies were questionable.  Knowing that many years have passed since then, I can't help but wonder how this tool fits in today.

The American Heart Association promotes that the compressions are to be hard, fast, and at a minimum depth.  I believe the devices today will probably meet all of those criteria.  However, the AHA also states that compressions need to be initiated as quickly as possible and for the most part, uninterrupted.  This is where the application of a mechanical device can trip up.  What have your experiences been?

But What If I Don't Want CPR?

by Greg Landin on 10/24/13

California employers must now allow CPR to be performed in the workplace as per a new law just signed by Governor Brown.  This new law is in response to the event that occurred in March of 2013 in Bakersfield, California and is detailed below.  

Here is my take on this specific issue.

  1. There is a huge difference between quality of life and quantity of life, and one does not necessarily equal the other.
  2. There is usually little benefit to be gained by artificially prolonging the life of someone who does not wish it (irrespective of whether the resuscitation is fully successful).  Once one looses hope, little else remains to keep them alive.
  3. If you are terminally ill, or elderly enough to know you’re willing when God is ready to take you, then take the time to have a Do Not Resuscitate Order created.  Just ask your doctor, it’s easy.  Then by all means, keep a copy on your refrigerator (for the Fire and EMS to find), with your caretakers, or even get a medic alert bracelet or neckless to ensure your wishes are complied with.  If it can’t be found in the moment it is needed, it’s as if you never created the DNR order.

ABC News reports

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - All companies must now allow employees to perform CPR during emergency situations. The law comes after an incident in Bakersfield.

Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill over the October weekend prohibiting companies from creating policies banning employees from performing CPR.

The new law comes in response to an incident at took place earlier this year at Glenwood Gardens.  Lorraine Bayless, 87, died after being denied CPR by an employee.


The employee cited a company policy that did not allow performing emergency services.

Police were investigating whether there was any criminal wrongdoing in the handling of a health emergency at an independent living facility where a woman died after a nurse refused to provide CPR.  


An official at Glenwood Gardens, a sprawling, gated facility in Bakersfield, defended the nurse, saying she had followed policy in dealing with the 87-year-old woman who collapsed in a dining room.


A police dispatcher who fielded the 911 call was told the woman appeared to have a heart problem and was barely breathing.


Police immediately routed the call to the Bakersfield Fire Department, where a dispatcher pleaded with a nurse at the home to perform CPR on the woman.


The nurse refused, saying one of the facility's policies prevented her from doing CPR, according to an audio recording of the call.


Michaela Beard, a spokeswoman for Bakersfield police, said she couldn't provide any further information because the investigation was ongoing.


An unidentified woman made the Feb. 26 call, and asked for paramedics to be sent to help the woman. Later, a woman who identified herself as a nurse got on the phone and told dispatcher Tracey Halvorson she was not permitted to do CPR on the woman.


Halvorson urged the nurse to start CPR, warning the consequences could be dire if no one tried to revive the woman, who had been laid out on the floor on her instructions.


"I understand if your boss is telling you, you can't do it," the dispatcher said. "But ... as a human being ... you know, is there anybody that's willing to help this lady and not let her die?"


"Not at this time," the nurse answered.


During the 7-minute, 16-second call, Halvorson assured the nurse that Glenwood couldn't be sued if anything went wrong in attempts to resuscitate the resident, saying the local emergency medical system "takes the liability for this call," the transcript states.


Later in the call, Halvorson asks, "Is there a gardener? Any staff, anyone who doesn't work for you? Anywhere? Can we flag someone down in the street and get them to help this lady? Can we flag a stranger down? I bet a stranger would help her."


Halvorson is an experienced dispatcher and has worked for the county center for at least a decade, Kern County Fire Department Deputy Chief Michael Miller said.


She followed procedures until she ran out of options when the caller refused to perform CPR or identify anyone else who could, Miller said.


"It's not uncommon to have someone refuse to provide CPR if they physically can't do it, or they're so upset they just can't function," Miller said. "What made this one unique was the way the conversation on the phone went. It was just very frustrating to anyone listening to it, like, why wasn't anyone helping this poor woman, since CPR today is much simpler than it was in the past?"


Firefighters and ambulance personnel arrived at the facility seven minutes after the call came in, Miller said. The county does not know who made the call, he added.


The woman had no pulse and wasn't breathing when fire crews reached her, fire Battalion Chief Anthony Galagaza said.


They started CPR and loaded her onto a gurney, and the woman was later declared dead at Mercy Southwest Hospital.


The executive director of Glenwood Gardens, Jeffrey Toomer, defended the nurse, saying she followed the facility's policy.


"In the event of a health emergency at this independent living community our practice is to immediately call emergency medical personnel for assistance and to wait with the individual needing attention until such personnel arrives," Toomer said in a written statement. "That is the protocol we followed."


Toomer offered condolences to the woman's family and said a thorough internal review of the incident would be conducted.


He told KGET-TV that residents of the facility are informed of the policy and agree to it when they move in. He said the policy does not apply at the adjacent assisted living and skilled nursing facilities.


 A call to the facility by The Associated Press seeking more information was not immediately returned.


On Monday, security guards were letting cars in and out of the facility at the front gate. A few people, including one man with a walker, were seen on the manicured grounds dotted with palm and flowering trees.


Annette Pellens, a registered nurse who owns an assisted living facility across the street from Glenwood, said such an incident puts caregivers in a difficult ethical position.


"In that situation, you summon EMS and you do what's the right thing to do," Pellens said.

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