BY LINDSAY ATHERTON
VICE PRESIDENT OF NORTH AMERICAN AED SALES
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a leading cause of death in America. Despite this fact, there is still a serious lack of awareness which makes it an even bigger problem.
Currently more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in the United States each year, of which more than 90 percent are fatal. This means that there are approximately 325,000 lives claimed by SCA each year which equates to one U.S. citizen every two minutes.
The only definitive treatment for sudden cardiac arrest is effective CPR and a life-saving shock from an Automated External Defibrillator (AED). The survival rate increases from 6 percent to 74 percent, if effective CPR and defibrillation are delivered within the first three to five minutes. Immediate CPR can even triple the survival rate of a cardiac arrest victim.
Approximately 10,000 cardiac arrests occur at work. Due to the physical demands of the job, construction workers are seen to be at a higher risk of experiencing a sudden cardiac arrest.
In 2016, construction workers experienced 21 percent of all fatal accidents as well as an injury rate 71 percent above the average rate for all other occupations, despite the fact that construction workers in the United States represented less than 8 percent of the American workforce during this time.
THE DIFFERENCE AN AED CAN MAKE
The average time for the emergency medical services to arrive at the scene is seven minutes. For a victim of cardiac arrest, this can be too late, because for every minute that passes without treatment, the victim’s chance of survival decreases by 10 percent.
Construction sites are not always easy to access, which can increase the time it takes the emergency medical personnel to arrive at the scene on a construction site, ultimately reducing the victim’s chance of survival.
A 55-year-old construction worker in Colorado went into cardiac arrest in 2012, and again in 2015, while on the job. Thankfully, the employee was saved both times as a result of available AEDs and co-workers who had CPR training.
In 2018, a Williamsburg construction worker also suffered a cardiac arrest after being struck by a beam on the job. The worker survived thanks to an onsite AED and quick-thinking actions of other workers.
The best way to protect workers from a fatal SCA is to ensure there is an increase in CPR knowledge and the number of AEDs available.
You should never be more than a three-minute round trip from an AED while on a construction site to ensure effective treatment can be carried out rapidly if a cardiac arrest were to occur anywhere on the site. This may mean multiple AEDs are needed for large sites to ensure that no matter where an incident takes place, an AED can be located and retrieved for the victim’s optimal chance of survival.
PROTECTION FOR CONSTRUCTION WORKERS
Statistics indicate that the likelihood of a sudden cardiac arrest occurring on a construction site is very high. Precautionary measures should therefore be taken to help prepare for an on-the-job emergency.
AEDs are designed so anyone can use one, by following the instructions provided by the device. It can analyze the victim’s heart rhythm in order to advise whether or not a shock is necessary. However, training in CPR and proper use of an AED is highly recommended for all workers to feel confident that they would know how to respond to a cardiac emergency.
It’s important to remember that without effective CPR and defibrillation, an SCA victim has a very poor chance of survival.
Lindsay Atherton is vice president of North American AED sales of the defibshop, which works to raise awareness of cardiac arrest and the importance of having available AEDs and program management, with a goal to create as many heart safe environments as possible. For more information, visit https://www.thedefibshop.com/.