Cardiac Chain of Survival

Despite our best efforts, we will never eliminate sudden cardiac arrest. We need to be prepared when it strikes. The good news is that there is a routine. It is three easy steps. Collectively, it is called the Chain of Survival.

If a student collapses and is not responding or is shaking (without a pulse or breathing), assume that she is in cardiac arrest. Don’t be fooled by the shaking. It is often a symptom of cardiac arrest.

3 Steps in the Cardiac Chain of Survival

(1) Call 911 - You know how to use a phone, right? Stay calm and call 911. The operator will ask you questions and tell you what to do. Take a deep breath and listen.

(2) Get an automated external defibrillator (AED) – This devices is a life saver! Hopefully, you will find it in a case on the wall in the hallway of your school or other facility. Turn it on. It will start talking to you. “Put the pads on the patient’s bare chest.” Then, it will evaluate the heart and determine if a shock is needed. It will not deliver a shock unless it is necessary. So, if you remember one thing from this paragraph, turn on the device and listen!

(3) Administer cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) – Have you ever pumped up a ball with air? Think of that when you do this. Your hands will take over for the heart (which isn’t working at the moment), and pump blood and oxygen throughout the body. This keeps the brain and other organs functioning. CPR is easy.  It is just chest compressions. Check out this video for some entertainment and education.

What Else Should You Know

Your school should have a Cardiac Emergency Response Plan (CERP) to ensure that the everyone is prepared in the event of a cardiac emergency. With a little preparation, you can make your school a safer place for students and educators alike. Don’t hesitate, remember the cardiac chain of survival and prepare yourself today.

Even though cardiac arrest is deadly serious, we can have fun learning about it. See what we are doing with the Chain of Survival Relay.

For more information about the Chain of Survival, visit our Best Resources Page.