For life to be sustained, a constant supply of oxygen must be maintained and delivered to the brain and other vital organs by the circulating blood. The “pump” that maintains this circulation is the heart. If the heart stops (cardiac arrest), urgent action must be taken if death is to be prevented.
In certain cases, the use of a machine called a defibrillator’, which is carried in most ambulances, can start the heart beating again, so you should inform the medical services if you suspect cardiac arrest
The casualty is most likely to survive if:
- The low of oxygenated blood is rapidly restored to the brain by means of artificial ventilation and chest compression (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation or CPR);
- A defibrillator is used promptly;
- The casualty quickly reaches hospital to receive specialized treatment and care.
Although CPR is unlikely to restart a stopped heart, it is essential to carry it out. If it is applied correctly it will keep the circulation going and ensure that the blood supply to the brain is maintained until expert help arrives.
THE ABC OF RESUSCITATION
A is for AIRWAY
Lifting the casualty’s chin and tilting the head back will open the airway”. This position tilts the casualty’s tongue from the back of the throat so that it does not block the air passage
B is for BREATHING
If a casualty is not breathing, you can breathe for him, and thus oxygenate the blood, by giving “artificial ventilation”: blowing your own exhaled air into the casualty’s lungs
C is for CIRCULATION
If the heart stops, you can apply “chest compressions” to force blood through the heart and around the body you must combine these with artificial ventilation so that the blood is oxygenated