Could You Save a ColleagueΓÇÖs Life?
ItΓÇÖs a situation most of us hope weΓÇÖll never be in. But if a colleague had a heart attack at work, would you know what to do? And would you have the confidence to act?
Although offices are usually classed as lower risk workplaces, thereΓÇÖs no guarantee that your office will be emergency free. Trips and falls do happen; a first aider may have to deal with head injuries, breaks or burns. But what about emergencies arising from the health of individuals, like diabetic shock, asthma attacks or allergic reactions? What about heart attacks?
Each year, 124,000 heart attacks happen in the UK. In every case, time is of the essence. Faced with this kind of emergency in the workplace, what would you do?
Would you call an ambulance? Try to find the office first aider? Maybe youΓÇÖd rely on other colleagues to know what to do.
None of these responses is wrong, but to give the person having the heart attack the very best chance of survival you need to do something else first. According to the British heart foundation, applying a controlled shock (known as defibrillation) within five minutes of collapse provides the best possible chances of survival. For every minute that passes without defibrillation chances of survival decrease by 14%.
If you didnΓÇÖt say defibrillation, youΓÇÖre not alone. A survey by defibrillator manufacturer DOC UK found that only 10% of workers would use the defibrillator first when faced with a colleague who appeared to be having a heart attack. 33% would not use a defibrillator under any circumstances.
These are workers who have access to a defibrillator on site. Under current UK law, provision of defibrillation equipment within the workplace is not compulsory and only 15% of UK workplaces actually have one ready to use in an emergency.
DOC UK is calling for all workplaces to have defibrillator equipment onsite, but they also recognise that equipment is only part of what workers need to feel prepared for an emergency. The crucial element is giving employees the confidence to act.
As Dr Sarah Brewer says: ΓÇ£The ideal scenario is for defibrillation to be carried out by a trained paramedic; however, time is of the essence. The convention is for people to be referred to as ΓÇÿbrain-deadΓÇÖ just four minutes after a cardiac arrest, and yet the target response time for an ambulance is eight minutes. This is why defibrillators at workplaces are essential. ItΓÇÖs also essential that people know how to use them and arenΓÇÖt too scared to use them ΓÇô otherwise they are no more than a high-tech wall decoration.ΓÇ¥
So what to do if you work at one of the 85% of workplaces that donΓÇÖt have a defibrillator on standby? You can still be prepared. The British Heart Foundation says that even those with no first aid training can perform hands-only CPR in an emergency. (YouΓÇÖve probably seen it demonstrated on TV by Vinnie Jones, performing chest compressions to the beat of StayinΓÇÖ Alive.)
Whatever the kit at your disposal, one thing is for certain ΓÇô we should all be ready to act. According to the British Red Cross 73% of those who receive first aid training at work go on to use their training in a real life situation within a year. 35% will use their training both inside and outside the workplace. Are you ready?
Do you feel prepared for a medical emergency in the office? Have you ever used your first aid training at work? WeΓÇÖd love to hear your story ΓÇô share it in the comments below.
Image from Riley Huntley (Huntley Photography) via Wikimedia Commons.