Should all Australian workplaces have AED devices?
What risks are Australians facing?
Sudden Cardiac Arrest
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is one of the most prevalent health risks in Australian workplaces with an estimated 30,000 cases occurring in 2018 (Australian Hearts, 2018). The heart stops beating unexpectedly and therefore cuts blood flow to the bodies major organs. SCA often results in death without immediate intervention through cardiopulmonary resuscitation or emergency devices. SCA should not be confused with heart attacks which are caused by a blockage of arteries which can also result in SCA.
A study conducted in 2015 on out-of-hospital cardiac arrest cases found that the incidence rate was 99.4 per 100,000 people in Australia. This is significantly more compared to that of Japan which was found to be 14.9 per 100,000 people. Of those that experienced SCA and received resuscitation in Australia only approximately 28% survive (Beck et al., 2018).
The high rate of SCA in Australia may be attributed to the prominence of cardiovascular diseases amongst the population. This means workplaces, sports fields, gyms and the like are all prime areas for people who may be at risk of SCA. There are currently no requirements for workplaces to keep defibrillators on hand despite the benefits of devices and the bleak reality of SCA.
AED advocate Australian Hearts' 2018 submission to review work health & safety laws notes that Australian SCA survival rates are poor compared to other locations such as Italy, Sweden & London. More recent studies conducted still determined the survival rate of SCA to be 10.4% if occurring outside of a hospital.
What are the causes of SCA?
Most cases of sudden cardiac arrest stem from heart issues known or unbeknownst to the affected individual. Some of these might include heart diseases, inherited heart diseases, arrhythmia and cardiomyopathies (inflammation) [Vandenberg, Perry & Hill, 2017]. These diseases have a further correlation between obesity and lifestyle choices. The Australian Bureau of Statistics found that 63% of all Australian adults were either overweight or obese (ABS, 2015).
Fundamental health values and habits of Australians must be changed in order to address the growing prevalence of cardiovascular diseases. However, research is also progressing in the field in order to understand genetic influences. Until then, the least workplaces can do to prevent unnecessary deaths is to be prepared to deal with the worst case scenario.
How do we prepare for SCA?
Install Automated External Defibrillators in easy-to-access locations
When an individual experiences SCA, every passing minute approximately equates to a 10% decrease in chance of survival.
The graph above demonstrates the importance of having an AED on site in order to kickstart the heart. The primary purpose of AED's is to maximise the individuals chance of survival until paramedics arrive. If AED were utilized within the first 5 minutes of SCA, the survival rate would double. If delivered within the first 3 minutes, the survival rate would triple.
One would hope that these devices would never have to be used but the reality is that AEDs are the most effective way to ensure the life of someone who is experiencing SCA. Although an effective first aid technique, bystanders will rarely be proficient enough to carry out consistent chest compressions. Bystander CPR increased 5-year survival rates by 5.6% in individuals affected by out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (Geri et al., 2017).
How can we reduce the cases of SCA?
As previously mentioned, there can be underlying health issues and lifestyle choices that can increase the risk of SCA. A study in the US found that white-collar workers were more at risk of SCA than that of blue-collar worker (Zhang et al., 2019). Though psychological factors were not assessed, it is possible that there is a correlation between physical activity/fitness & risk of SCA.
Stay Active: The Australian Government recommends people between the ages of 18-65 engage in 2.5 - 5 hours of moderate physical activity per week. Alternatively, people could 1.25 - 2.5 hours of intense physical activity per week.
People should also minimize the amount of time sitting and break up long periods of time sitting. This becomes increasingly difficult for white collar workers who are always on the computer or in an office (Australia's Physical Activity & Sedentary behaviour guidelines, 2017).
The CR2 is created for public and professional usage. The AED pads fit on both adults & Children. Some of the features include:
- 8-year warranty
- LIFEPAK TOUGH™ - IP55 resistance for challenging environments
- Cloud-based communication via Wifi or cellular networks
- Escalating energy delivery up to 360J
- CPR assist based on compression timing & breath
- CPR metronome
- Energy and CPR delivery appropriate for children.
- ClearVoice™ - Automatic audio volume adjustments to background noise
- Automatic & Semi Automatic Models.
- Bilingual Setting: Toggle between two preset languages (Optional)
The CR2 essential differs from the regular CR2 as it lacks the cloud-based software integration. However, it shares all of the other features seen in the description above. The essential is the perfect economic choice.
This is an entry level AED that can be used by both trained professionals and non-professionals. The device is easy to use with ClearVoice guidance system. Other features include:
- Safeguard Power System
- Automatic & Semi Automatic Variants
- 8-year warranty
- ClearVoice™ audio guidance
This AED is designed for first responder use and for professionals such as doctors, nurses & ambos. Features Include:
- 5-year warranty
- Cloud-based monitoring via Cellular or Wifi
- ECG display
- Escalating energy output to 360J
- Semi-Automatic with Manual Override.
- Constant heart monitoring.
If ever you find yourself in a situation where someone experiences SCA, remember:
Recognise the issue:
If you see someone immobile act as quickly as possible. Check for consciousness & breathing.
Dial 000 and request emergency services & signal for help. Locate the nearest AED.
Perform CPR as quickly as possible, the quicker CPR is administered, the higher chance for survival.
If you have access to an AED, open the unit and follow instructions.