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Employers Unprepared for Cardiac Emergencies

An AED can save a life in a cardiac emergency before paramedics can arrive. (Walter/Flickr)
An AED can save a life in a cardiac emergency before paramedics can arrive. (Walter/Flickr)
August 2, 2017

LINCOLN, Neb. - Odds are strong that if you have a cardiac emergency at work, no one there will know what to do to help you in the precious moments before paramedics can arrive.

Even though about 10,000 cardiac arrests occur in workplaces each year, according to the American Heart Association, most employers are not prepared to render assistance. Even if a business has an automated external defibrillator available, said paramedic Adam Fritsch, owner of Advanced Professional Healthcare Education, a lot of employees would be afraid to use it - although he said they shouldn't be.

"Not at all," he said. "Most AEDs today, especially the newer models, have only two buttons on them. It's as simple as pushing the 'on' button to turn the machine on, and then just follow the prompts for what it tells you to do. It'll walk you entirely through the process."

The Heart Association pointed out that an AED is of no use if workers don't know where to find it or how to use it.

Fritsch said a number of myths surround AEDs that can make people hesitate to use one to help a stricken fellow employee. Sometimes people are afraid they'll make a mistake and do more harm.

"The reality with the AED is, you can't hurt a person with it," he said. "If you put it on a person and they don't need the shock, the AED will tell you not to deliver the shock; whereas, if it does tell you to shock, that person must be having a cardiac emergency and must need that shock."

Recent surveys have shown that half of all workers in the United States could not locate an AED at their workplace - and nearly two-thirds in the hospitality industry didn't know where it was.

"My encouragement to any fellow entrepreneur or employer out there would be to at least consider having some of their staff trained, even if they can't afford having everybody trained," he said. "To at least have some people on each shift that are aware of what to do in these emergencies can really go a long way to make a big difference."

The Heart Association has said an AED can save lives, and has encouraged employers and employees to learn how to use one.

More information is online at newsroom.heart.org.

Mary Kuhlman, Public News Service - NE