1. A heart attack and cardiac arrest are the same thing.
A cardiac arrest is not the same thing as a heart attack. They are different conditions and require different treatments. A heart attack happens when one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked due to fatty deposits. The heart muscle is robbed of its vital blood supply and, if left untreated, will begin to die because it is not getting enough oxygen.
A cardiac arrest is when a person’s heart stops pumping blood around their body and they stop breathing normally. Many cardiac arrests in adults happen because of a heart attack because their heart has develop an abnormal heart rhythm which can lead to a cardiac arrest.
2. Don’t perform CPR on a casualty if you haven’t been trained.
If you have not been trained to perform CPR, Hot Response First Aid Training & Consultancy recommends that everyone attempts chest compressions when assisting with a cardiac arrest casualty.
The first three minutes after a cardiac arrest are the most important therefore it is essential that bystander CPR is performed. Ambulance dispatches will always provide instructions on how to carry out chest compressions over the phone.
3. You do not need to perform rescue breaths when performing CPR.
There has been some confusion for many years now that rescue breaths should not be provided when performing CPR, with popular television adverts regarding bystander CPR adding to some of that uncertainty.
Someone who has suffered a cardiac arrest will still have 3 or 4 minutes’ worth of oxygenated blood residing in their system and it is vitally important to pump this blood throughout the casualty’s body by means of chest compressions. After this period of time, the oxygenated blood will deplete and the importance of breathing for the casualty becomes crucial to aiding the casualty’s survival. Two rescue breaths should be given after every 30 compressions.
If a child suffers a cardiac arrest, it is very important for a First Aider to provide 5 rescue breaths first as a child’s body does not retain oxygenated blood the same way as adults. These 5 breaths should then be followed by 30 compressions and then continue with 2 rescue breaths and 30 compressions until emergency crews arrives.
However, due to infection control risks we recognise that some people may be unable or unwilling to provide rescue breaths for an unresponsive casualty who is not breathing normally, and therefore strongly recommend delivering chest compressions only. Always use an approved face shield when providing rescue breaths.
4. If a person is alone, they can avoid a cardiac arrest by coughing.
There has been information circulating on social media claiming that a person who is alone can avoid a cardiac arrest by coughing to prevent the condition getting worse. This information is false and should not be followed. If you go into cardiac arrest there is no way to ‘stop’ this.
5. A casualty can die if CPR is delivered incorrectly.
If a person is at the point of receiving CPR, technically they are already dead. CPR and defibrillation is the single most effective treatment for a cardiac arrest. CPR can only help the casualty at this point, even if it is not performed perfectly.
In the event of a cardiac arrest, it is better to attempt some form of CPR than nothing at all.
6. You can be sued for performing CPR.
Some people are scared to perform CPR as they are concerned that they may hurt the person who needs treatment or be sued for their actions. Although there is the ‘Good Samaritan’ law in Australia, which protects a first aider who acts in good faith and within their level of training.
7. It takes too long to learn CPR.
Hot Response First Aid Training & Consultancy run a short two hour course covering CPR and how to use a defibrillator.
8. You can contract HIV/AIDS from delivering rescue breaths during CPR.
People can be reluctant to deliver full CPR (30 chest compressions and two rescue breaths) to a stranger at the risk of contracting HIV or AIDS. This is highly unlikely to happen as HIV and AIDS can only be spread through direct contact with blood, semen, or vaginal fluid. However, we recommend using a face shield to avoid any infection control risks. If in doubt, commence CPR only until emergency crews arrive.
Know the dangers of button batteries – and what a swallowed battery could do to your child’s inside’s.
Button batteries burn. The damage is noticeable within just 30 minutes and if the child does not receive immediate medical help, they may die. Often, the first anyone knows that a button battery has been swallowed is when the child starts vomiting blood – but this is usually too late!
The dangers of button batteries:
We all remember having fun with science experiments as children … watching a bottle of cola explode when a mento mint was dropped in it – and seeing the enamel on a tooth disappear before our eyes when left in fizzy pop overnight. A far more important experiment that we should all be doing with our kids though, is one where a small, round ‘button’ battery is left on a slice of ham for a few hours. This represents what would happen to a person’s insides if they were to swallow one. The process is staggering to watch. It outlines just how vital it is to keep these batteries out of the reach of babies, toddlers and small children.
Button batteries and lithium coin batteries are the small, round, batteries you find in toys, cards, watches, key fobs, calculators, hearing aids and numerous other everyday objects. They look to be totally harmless and you would think that if they were swallowed, that they would pass straight through and out the other end. Whist sometimes the battery can come out the other end, with no problem, sadly it is usually not the case.
What would happen if one was swallowed?:
With batteries being needed in ever more electronic gadgets around the home, hospitals are reporting an increase in life-changing injuries resulting from these innocent-looking culprits. These batteries are commonly found in toys, key fobs and even greetings cards. If the battery is swallowed and gets stuck at any point in its journey; then it continues to emit its charge (even if it was already considered to be ‘dead’ when swallowed). This creates corrosive caustic soda which burns through the tissue and causes horrendous damage and internal bleeding.
Lithium coin batteries are particularly dangerous. They have a higher voltage and so release more energy and are more corrosive. Fatal damage can therefore occur in just a couple of hours. In most cases, parents have no idea their child has swallowed a battery until they start vomiting blood, by which time it is often too late to help as irreparable damage has already occurred.
An experiment to illustrate the dangers:
This video experiment is to show what a button battery would do to a slice of ham in just 90 minutes. To mimic a battery being swallowed, saliva was added to the battery and it was enclosed in cling film to be enclosed, as in the body – and the results were shocking.
So … what can be done?
Prevention and vigilance are key:
- Always check that battery compartments on electronic gadgets are securely fastened (usually with a screw).
- If a battery is missing and you think it likely your child may have swallowed it, take your child to A&E for an x-ray to be sure.
- If a battery compartment isn’t secured with a screw; ensure the gadget is kept safely out of the reach of children. Avoid buying products that do not conform to AU safety standards.
- Store spare batteries carefully; somewhere inaccessible to children, ideally in a high-up, lockable cupboard. Button batteries are potentially as dangerous as medicines and your cleaning products and should be treated as such.
- Inform your whole family about the dangers of button batteries.
- Recycle used batteries safely, as these too are dangerous
If you think your child may have swallowed a button battery, act fast:
- Take them to your nearest A&E as quickly as possible
- Tell the triage nurse that you think they have swallowed a battery. Take the gadget with you so the staff can identify the type of battery you are worried about.
- Do not wait for any signs or symptoms
- Do not try to make them sick
- Make sure you do not give them anything to eat or drink. They may need an anaesthetic in order to be operated on
Your child will be x-rayed to establish whether the battery is there or not and if so, where it is lodged. If necessary, they will be taken for an operation to remove the battery as a matter of urgency.
Please do follow this advice on how to prevent accidents happening in the first place. Also spread the word on how to keep children safe around button batteries.
Hot Response First Aid Training provides this information for guidance only. It is not in any way a substitute for medical advice. Hot Response First Aid Training is not responsible or liable for any diagnosis made, or actions taken based on this information. It is strongly advised that you attend a practical First Aid course to understand what to do in a medical emergency.
Drowning is a common cause of accidental death, especially amongst children and toddlers. Contrary to popular opinion, a casualty who drowns does not usuallyi inhale large amounts of water into the lungs.
90% of deaths from drowning are caused by a relatively small amount of water entering the lungs, interfering with oxygen exchange in the alveoli (wet drowning). The other 10% are caused by muscle spasm near the epiglottis and larynx blocking the airway (dry drowning). The victim will usually swallow large amounts of water, which might then be vomited as they are rescued or resuscitation takes place.
It should be remembered that other factors may contribute to the cause of drowning – for example, hypothermia, alcohol, or an underlying medical condition such as epilepsy or a heart attack.
If a small amount of water enters the lungs, irritation is caused and fluid is drawn from the blood into the alveoli. This reaction could be delayed for several hours, so a casualty who has been resuscitated and apparently recovered might relapse into severe difficulty breathing at a later stage. It is for this reason that any casualty who recovers from ‘near drowning’ should be taken to a hospital immediately.
First aid treatment of drowning
- Do not put yourself at risk. ‘Reach or throw – don’t GO’.
- If possible keep the victim horizontal during the rescue as shock can occur.
- Check Airway and Breathing. – Perform CPR if necessary (if they are not breathing normally)
- Call for emergency medical help, even if the victim appears to recover initially after the drowning episode