Would you know what to do if someone you work with collapsed suddenly to the ground? Would you know it could be cardiac arrest? Does your workplace have an AED (automated external defibrillator) and do you know where it is? According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, approximately 10,000 cardiac arrests happen annually in the workplace. That’s why these are important questions to which you must be able to answer, “Yes.”
Believe it or not, most U.S. employees are not prepared to handle a cardiac emergency because they lack training in CPR and first aid, according to two new surveys commissioned by the American Heart Association. Results reveal that most employers don’t provide access to CPR and first aid training and if they do, it’s one or the other. Half of the workers surveyed don’t know the location of an AED at work and that number jumps to 66% in the hospitality industry. These findings have prompted the American Heart Association to launch the Workplace Safety Training Initiative advocating for workplace safety training and public access to AEDs.
Of the more than 350,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests that occur each year, over 100,000 happen outside of the home. Cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating. The chances of survival can double or even triple when CPR is immediately performed by a bystander.
Forty-five-year-old Andy was one of the lucky ones. When he collapsed suddenly at work, his co-worker, who happened to be a former firefighter, knew exactly what to do. She called 9-1-1, yelled for someone to get the AED, and began performing chest compressions; pushing hard and fast on Andy’s chest until the paramedics arrived.
Andy survived and there was an emotional meeting between the two upon his return to work.
Not surprisingly, the safety managers in OSHA-regulated industries agree that there is a need for more frequent training, although one-third said it didn’t become important and offered until after an incident happened.
After Nancy collapsed in a restaurant and was saved by restaurant employee Richmond, who performed CPR, her husband’s law firm installed AEDs in all 32 law offices nationwide and provided CPR and AED training to all 700 employees. “Had Richmond not seen the value in being trained, I might not have survived,” says Nancy. “I can’t stress enough how important and empowering these trainings and the availability of AEDs are for people.”
Visit heart.org/workforcetraining to learn more about the surveys and to find out how to bring CPR and first aid training and AEDs to your workplace.
Written by Toiya Honoré, American Heart Association