Medical emergencies: Reflections from a heart attack – and a cardiac arrest

The recent press and media coverage of Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest during a football match captured hearts and minds worldwide.

Closer to home, one of Tidal Training Direct Ltd’s learners has recent experience of a heart attack and how her first aid training helped. Dordie Ketley runs Middletown Farm and Cottages and several other businesses near Newent.  Having first gained her Level 3 Award in Emergency First Aid at Work qualification with us 3 years ago, Dordie joined our Lead paramedic for a timely update including CPR best practice during Covid in March 2021. Three weeks later, she recognised the signs and symptoms that she was having a heart attack and took prompt action by calling the emergency services Dordie went into cardiac arrest in the ambulance and now has a pacemaker fitted. Whether you’re a footballer or a farmer, prompt action and the confidence to act ultimately saves lives. Here are some essential actions for you and your business to be more prepared:

  • Ultimately, it was the confidence to act that helped save Eriksen’s and Dordie’s lives. While Eriksen had trained medics on hand, Dordie didn’t. Any member of your team can be trained in CPR (cardio pulmonary resuscitation) and how to use a defibrillator to help save a life. First aid training is beneficial for a wide range of accident, injuries and emergencies, including cardiac arrest. Most workplace incidents can be appropriately managed by someone with current and qualified first aid training, including anaphylaxis, burns, stroke and minor injuries for example. Having a nominated First Aider in the workplace is an HSE requirement and helps reduce your workplace risk, demonstrating your responsibility and compliance as an employer.
  • A heart attack and cardiac arrest present an immediate threat to life and are medical emergencies.  In these events, call 999 and ask for the Ambulance Service.  The Emergency Services hold a national defibrillator network, The Circuit linking defibrillators to every Ambulance Service in the UK. 999 services direct individuals to the nearest defibrillator and if required give them the defibrillator cabinet access code which is linked to the postcode listed on the front of the housing unit of the defibrillator.  Using the analogy of plumbing and electrics; during a heart attack, the heart stops circulating blood around the body (and therefore the vital organs) During a cardiac arrest, the hearts electrical rhythm is disrupted (arrythmia).CPR supports the continued flow of oxygenated blood around the body to vital organs and the brain. In cardiac arrest, an automated external defibrillator (AED) can shock the heart back to a regular rhythm. Public access defibrillators are usually located in accessible places, and relay real time step by step instructions (as do 999 call handlers) for their use, including whether to deliver a shock to restart the heart. Using a defibrillator in the first 2 minutes of a cardiac arrest can increase the chances of survival by up to 80%.  As with any skill, it is easy when you know how to do it. Whilst it is beneficial to know where your nearest defibrillator is, it is vital that 999 services are called immediately to ensure that the defibrillator you are directed to is serviced and operational. We’re proud of our sister company Tidal Training Direct as Cofounder of Public Hearts Cheltenham for raising awareness and numbers of lifesaving defibrillators in Cheltenham. Tidal Direct work with Gloucestershire Police Licensing Division, South  Western Ambulance Service, Cheltenham BID and cardiac arrest survivor Chris Hickey as well as The Rotary and their Restarting Hearts Appeal – which has placed over 50 defibrillators in to Gloucestershire communities.
  • Carry out a Workplace Risk Assessment All businesses in the UK are guided by the HSE) Health and Safety Executive) regulation. It states employers must provide information about first-aid arrangements to their employees. Workplaces where there are more significant health and safety risks are more likely to need a trained first-aider. A first-aid needs assessment will help employers decide what first aid arrangements are appropriate for their workplace. To quote verbatim from HSE: “First aid provision must be ‘adequate and appropriate in the circumstances’. This means that you must provide sufficient first aid equipment (first aid kit), facilities and personnel at all times. In order to decide what provision you need to make you should undertake a first-aid needs assessment. This assessment should consider the circumstances of your workplace, workforce and the hazards and risks that may be present. The findings will help you decide what first-aid arrangements you need to put in place.”
  • Maintain a first aid kit: while a defibrillator may not be part of a standard first aid kit, maintaining a first kit on site is important. The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) provide an informative guide to first aid kit s, so we recommend looking at their website. Items in First aid kits usually conform to current British Standard BS 8599-1 which provides further information on the contents of workplace first-aid kits. It may also be appropriate to consult with a medical professional to identify any specific additions for your own kit, based on the needs of your specific workforce. Remember to not include any medicine, medications or tablets in a first aid kit. Whether using a first-aid kit complying with BS 8599-1 or an alternative kit, the contents should reflect the outcome of the first-aid needs assessment.
  • Consider what happens after: a lot of businesses and individuals simply plan for what might happen, but rarely for what happens next. When you are ‘in the moment’, adrenaline kicks in, training takes over if they’ve had some, and the sole focus of that moment becomes dealing with the incident. Once that initial feeling has passed however, those colleagues or participants in the incident are left dealing with shock and quite strong emotional reactions, many of which they simply didn’t expect to experience, and aren’t equipped to deal with.

Medical emergencies are rare and many businesses may not be adequately equipped or trained to deal with them. While you cannot predict every eventuality – the Manchester Bombing and COVID being two examples – having ensured current and precise training will help make your team more confident in dealing with new challenges, and more able to respond to accidents, injuries and emergencies, be that in or out of the workplace. incidents.

Speak to our sister company on 01242 371 999 for more information to support your staff with fit for purpose skills and training, delivered by qualified medical professionals.