What do you offer to your customers? Cleaning services, hygiene supplies and furniture?
But what about medical devices that can mean the difference between someone dying or surviving?
According to an article published by the Mirror, around 200,000 hospital visits in Britain are due to heart attacks, and if a defibrillator is used within the first three to five minutes of a person collapsing, their survival chances increase from six to 74 per cent.
But, there are many myths surrounding defibrillators, such as what businesses need them and who should operate them.
Mark Gilmore, managing director at Aero Healthcare, a provider of first aid consumables and medical devices, discusses the importance of defibrillators for the facilities management sector – and how they can mean the difference between someone surviving or dying.
Every year more than seven million people globally suffer from a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) with no warning. And only five to 10 percent survive.
In addition, 84 percent of SCA events occur outside of a healthcare setting – meaning they happen in public areas and in work environments.
So what can you do to ensure your workplace is fully equipped to deal with someone that is struck by an SCA?
What is an SCA and what causes it?
Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA) is when the heart enters a chaotic rhythm. It usually results from a disturbance in your heart that disrupts its pumping action, stopping the blood flow to the rest of your body.
And, it’s a medical emergency that if not treated immediately, can cause Sudden Cardiac Death.
The symptoms of an SCA are immediate and include:
- Sudden collapse
- No pulse
- No breathing
- Loss of consciousness
“Surely, this is something best left to a medical professional…”
Many people don’t intervene in the event of a cardiac arrest for fear of making things worse, or assume it would be best to wait until a paramedic is on the scene. But this is untrue, as any help is better than none in most cases.
The average response time for emergency services is around eight – 10 minutes. For every minute that passes without defibrillation, chances of surviving an SCA drop by about 10 per cent.
After ten minutes without defibrillation, the chances of survival are almost zero.
So what should I do if I witness a Sudden Cardiac Arrest?
If you come across someone suffering an SCA, it is essential to act quickly.
- Call 999
The very first thing you should do if you witness someone collapse is see if they are responsive by giving them a “shake and shout”. If they remain unconscious and unresponsive, check for normal breathing before calling 999 and requesting an ambulance.
- Start CPR
CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) helps to pump blood around the body when someone’s heart is struggling to do so. It also helps prevent damage to the brain and limit damage to the vital organs.
The British Heart Foundation recommends performing 30 chest compressions followed by two rescue breaths, repeating this until an ambulance arrives.
- Look for a nearby defibrillator
Contrary to popular belief, defibrillators can be used by anyone – not just by healthcare professionals.
If you can’t see a defibrillator nearby, or don’t have one on site, you can ask emergency services to identify the location of your nearest public AED (automated external defibrillator) during your 999 call.
AEDs stored in public locations are usually protected to keep them secure, but emergency services can provide you with a key code to gain access to a nearby device.
Today, many devices feature clear, simple voice and visual prompts or descriptions of how to operate them, meaning they can be used effectively without prior training or medical experience.
So, what more can I do to keep my team safe?
Five per cent of all Sudden Cardiac Arrests will occur in the workplace, affecting 100 people in the UK every week.
There is no UK legislation that obliges businesses or premises to have a defibrillator, but under English law, failing to take appropriate safety precautions on your site could be construed as negligence.
In short, defibrillators should be available in every location imaginable, given the unpredictability and severity of SCA.
Defibrillators should be treated in the same way as fire extinguishers – they should be easily accessible to everyone, rather than locked away in a cupboard.
By investing in a defibrillator or multiple defibrillators (depending on the set up of your business), you can have complete confidence that your employees and customers will have easy access to the life-saving devices they need in the event of an emergency.
When procuring a defibrillator, always check to see if the supplier offers training options, or easy ways to integrate it into your daily operations.
On site or online training will ensure that, rather than options that require your team to travel to a specific location. Training your team ensures your AED will be usable and accessible for everyone, no matter where they are.
Remember, by using a defibrillator you can increase the chance of someone surviving from six to 74 per cent.
In the case of an SCA, the first thing you should do is alert the emergency services, as it is a medical emergency that can lead to death.
Whilst the importance of defibrillation is widely recognised, the way they are used and maintained isn’t.
- Expiration dates
The batteries and pads in your defibrillator are the key functions that send the shock to the SCA sufferer.
Both the pads and batteries will have expiration dates, so it’s essential that you keep an eye on when they’ll need replacing. And, pads are single-use, so if they are used in an event of an SCA – they will need to be replaced.
- Cold weather
Earlier this year we saw “the beast from the east” which sent parts of the UK into meltdown, and it would of had a knock-on effect for defibrillators.
If you experience cold weather we’d recommend:
- Warming pads between the palm of your hands – if they are cold or stiff – to loosen them.
- Moving your defibrillator into a warm room if it’s located in a cold one that has a temperature below its operating level.
- If you keep your defibrillator in a vehicle, wrap it in a thick garment, fleece or heavy foil blanket – this will help shield it from the cold temperatures and prevent temperature related issues.
- Warranties and replacing your defibrillator
When procuring a defibrillator you must check the supplier’s warranty to ensure it’s a worthwhile investment and you’re protected in case anything goes wrong.
And, you should consider the devices typical lifespan and look at its guarantee length, as some devices on the market can have eight years guarantee – which is the longest available.
For more information about Aero Healthcare’s defibrillators and how to access them through its distributor network, get in touch www.aerohealthcare.co.uk