The chain of survival- It’s only as strong as it’s weakest link and the clock is ticking.
What bystanders can do to help save a life:
Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a sudden and unexpected pulseless condition that strikes almost 400,000 people annually in out-of-hospital settings. Many of these lives can be saved when the Chain of Survival is immediately implemented. When bystanders intervene by giving CPR and using AEDs, four out of 10 victims survive (Sudden Cardiac Arrest Foundation).
The “Chain of Survival” refers to the steps in rapid succession that must be taken during life-threatening emergencies that include Sudden Cardiac Arrest, Heart Attack, Stroke and foreign body airway obstruction.
A medical emergency is by definition unexpected and sudden. This can cause confusion for those in the vicinity, but it is important that people understand that intervening with these action steps may save a person’s life.
Each of the 6 images convey a vital and life-saving link in this chain that, when instituted immediately, afford the SCA victim the greatest chance at a full recovery.
Amazingly, the lay person/bystander plays the critical role in the first three links in the Chain.
These three actions must happen immediately. The clock begins ticking as soon as the SCA victim collapses, and from that point, there are about 10 minutes to complete the links in the Chain of Survival.
- Recognize and intervene
- Call for help – 9-1-1 and determine if there is an AED on site
- Begin CPR with emphasis on chest compressions
Ten minutes: The important caveat to the Chain of Survival is that it must be completed within 10 minutes time. The links are equally important and each play a vital role, but time is of the essence and the clock starts as soon as the victim collapses.
CPR is vital but so is the Automated External Defibrillator. CPR positions the victim to survive IF the AED is at their side within 10 minutes. The next blog will explain the importance the AED plays in the Chain of Survival.Out-of-hospital Chain of Survival
- Recognition of cardiac arrest and activation of the emergency response system.
- Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) with an emphasis on chest compressions.
- Rapid defibrillation.
- Basic and advanced emergency medical services.
- Advanced life support and post-cardiac arrest care.
- AHA. “American Heart Association.” https://www.heart.org/en. 20 November 2018.
Written by Blaire Czarniecki
Customer Service Director
Fact checked by Phillip Woods, BA, NREMT-P, FP-C
Blaire attended the University of Tennessee where she graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Human Ecology- Child and Family Studies. She has been in the Automated External Defibrillator (AED) industry for over eight years and is the Director of Customer Service for Coro Medical. Blaire is also an American Red Cross-certified CPR/AED/First Aid Instructor, highly trained by each manufacturer on their specific AEDs, and knowledgeable regarding ALL State AED regulations and legislation.
“I know that every day I come to work, I am playing a part in saving someone’s life. I am passionate about these devices and am always looking for new and innovative ways to spread awareness and knowledge about Sudden Cardiac Arrest (SCA). I look forward to the day when everywhere I go, I will see an AED—when SCA will no longer take any lives.”
Last updated August 19, 2021 – added Recovery to OHCA chain of survival per 2020 AHA Guidelines for CPR & ECC