Have you ever come across a life or death emergency situation? Even if you haven’t, it is recommended that we make it a point to be equipped with some first aid skills. Our expert, Dr Lee Soon Han, emergency physician at Hospital Sungai Buloh encourages those who work where there may be a large group of people congregating, to go for these courses to learn the skills and to set up an emergency response team. Courses which offer certifications in emergency skills such as CPR, Basic Life Support, first aid and others are widely available in our community.
We want the members of the public to be brave enough to step up to help, especially if they know the skill, as early help can improve the chances of survival of the victim, especially in cardiac arrest. – Dr Lee
1. Cardiac arrest
- Once you’ve checked if she is unresponsive and not breathing, she is having a cardiac arrest.- Firstly you need to make sure the scene is safe for her to continue. “This is what we call as clearing the danger, as sometimes cardiac arrest can happen in an unsafe environment and we do not want her to be in any more harm,” Dr Lee pointed out.
- Position her lying down with her face up on a hard surface on the floor. Then, you must check for any response by tapping the shoulders and calling out to see if there is any response. If there is none, the next step is to shout or call for help.
- If there are other bystanders around, quickly ask them for help to call 999 to get emergency medical services help and the ambulance will be on its way once they manage to get information about the location of the incident.- Someone else can also try to get an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) which is available in some public places such as shopping centers and offices, and to bring it back immediately to the scene of the incident.
- You must attend to her needs by manually opening up the airway by tilting her forehead back and lifting up the chin.
- Check for any breathing by looking at the chest movement, feel or hear for any breath sounds from the mouth. If there is no breathing, start with cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). For those who are not a trained medical personnel, Dr Lee suggests chest compression only, and there is no need for mouth to mouth resuscitation.
- Place one hand on the center of the chest at the lower half of the breastbone/sternum. Then, place the other hand on top of it and push downwards while keeping the elbows straight. Compress the chest about 5 centimeters deep and release to allow recoil.
- We want at least 200 compressions in 2 minutes. Once the AED is available, turn on the AED and follow the voice prompts given by the machine to give further treatment. It’s crucial to reassess her every two minutes.
- If you do not know CPR, call 999 and follow the instructions over the phone. A step by step approach on how to perform CPR will be taught (so remember to put it on loud speaker). The CPR must be continued until the ambulance team arrive or if the situation is unsafe to continue CPR.