Importance of Emergency First Aid Training
If you were ever a member of St John Ambulance or the Malaysian Red Crescent Society (PBSM) during your school years, you probably have memories of the ‘Head Tilt, Chin Lift’ maneuver to perform CPR on the Little Anne Manikins. That was one of the most basic first aid trainings every member had to know how to perform.
What is First Aid?
First aid means to provide medical attention to a person suffering from a sudden illness or injury on site until professional help is available. First aid can be done in many forms, for example it can be attending to minor cuts, scrapes, or burns; securing an injured limb with slings or bandages; or performing professional medical help such as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
According to the latest report released by the Department of Statistics Malaysia, the leading cause of death in Malaysia is still caused by Ischemic Heart Diseases (IHD) or also known as Coronary Artery Diseases (CAD), in layman terms it is known as heart problems. It is the narrowing of the heart arteries caused by cholesterol or plaque buildups in the inner walls restricting proper blood flow to the heart which often leads to a heart attack. That is when you hope that the nearest person knows how to perform emergency CPR because it can be the silver lining to saving a person’s life.
When the heart stops beating, blood supply that carries oxygen and nutrients is cut off and if CPR is not administered soon, both the heart and brain will be affected. The human brain can only survive up to 6 minutes without oxygen and if CPR is not administered by then, brain cells will begin to die. Even if the heart is restarted, lack of oxygen to the brain will result in permanent brain dead and the person will have to be put on life support.
What is an AED and when should you use it?
AED stands for Automated External Defibrillator and it is a modern, lightweight and portable lifesaving medical device. It is should be used on people having a heart attack or a Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). The device will analyze the person’s heart rhythm for any irregularities and if needed, it can send electric shocks or defibrillation to the heart to shock it back to its normal rhythm.
AEDs can be used by non-medically trained personals because most AEDs now have built in voice instructions to help guide the users thru the process and will advise them after analyzing the patient’s heart on whether they need to begin CPR.
When switched on the AED will instruct the user to connect the pads to a patient’s bare chest. The pads enable the AED to examine the patient’s heart and determine if the patient is in a viable, shockable rhythm. If the device determines that a shock is required, it will charge in preparation to deliver a shock. The AED is very safe as it will only charge if it determines a shockable rhythm is present. When charged, the device instructs the user to ensure that no one is touching the patient and to then press a button to deliver the shock. Or, in the case of a fully automatic AED, the unit will advise the user that it is about to deliver the shock without further intervention. After the shock is delivered, the device will instruct the user to start/continue cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for a period of two minutes, after which it will analyze the patient’s heart rhythm once again, advising a further shock or further CPR.
Without proper CPR and defibrillation, a patient’s survival rate decreases by 10% every minute therefore it is critical know what to do in this type situation.