Each year, more than 300,000 people in the U.S. die of sudden cardiac arrest, but performing CPR and using an automated external defibrillator (AED) during a cardiac emergency can help save lives. February is National Heart Month, and the American Red Cross urges Americans to learn CPR and get the training and skills necessary to operate an AED.
“The chance for survival for a person in cardiac arrest is reduced by about 10 percent for each minute that defibrillation is delayed, so CPR and AEDs can literally be a matter of life and death,” said Richard N. Bradley, MD, Chair of the Red Cross Scientific Advisory Council’s Resuscitation Sub-Council. “Someone who knows how to respond to an emergency is an asset to every household, workplace and community.”
The Red Cross offers a variety of online and in-class training courses. Participants learn how to recognize and respond to cardiac, breathing and first aid emergencies including performing CPR, using an AED, helping someone who is choking, controlling bleeding, treating heat- and cold-related emergencies and more. People can find training offerings in their area and options to take online simulation courses at redcross.org/takeaclass.
Another important element in reducing the number of cardiac arrest deaths are AEDs, devices that analyze the heart’s rhythm and, if necessary, deliver an electrical shock which helps the heart re-establish an effective rhythm. Different types of AEDs are available, but they are similar to operate and have common features. The Red Cross helps people obtain AEDs for their home, business, school or organization, and offers AED program management, maintenance, and service. To learn more about AEDs, visit redcross.org/aedoffers.
Additionally, the Red Cross First Aid App includes step-by-step instructions, videos and animations on how to handle a variety of first aid situations including performing CPR and using an AED. Preloaded content (also available in Spanish) allows users to access what they need even without mobile service. The Hospital Locator is convenient for travelers and the app is fully integrated with 9-1-1 so people can call EMS from the app in an emergency. People can download the app for free in their mobile app store, by texting ‘GETFIRST’ to 90999 or by going to redcross.org/apps.