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Cardiac Chain of Survival

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According to the American Heart Association, 7 in 10 cardiac arrests happen at home1, with the balance occurring in public places. Immediate response to cardiac arrest with hands-only CPR and an AED, if available, can be the difference between life and death by tripling the chance of survival1. Considering the national average of EMS arrival is 6 to 13 minutes2, bystanders are a critical bridge to survival when every minute counts.

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For every minute that a victim goes without defibrillation, his/her chance for survival decreases by 10%.3 Having easily accessible AEDs allows on-site individuals to deliver potentially life-saving defibrillation therapy quickly and effectively.

Rescuers must remember that an AED will not shock a victim if a fatal heart rhythm is not detected, so you cannot hurt a person by attempting to deploy an AED—the device is specifically designed for a non-medical person to use. What’s more important to understand is that if nothing is done for a cardiac arrest victim, he/she will most likely die. Equipping schools and other places where youth congregate with AEDs and training people how to use the technology properly can provide a youth struck by SCA another chance at life.


Cardiac Chain of Survival

  1. Recognize Sudden Cardiac Arrest
  2. Call 9-1-1 and onsite first responders immediately
  3. Start CPR immediately—Push hard and push fast on the center of the chest
  4. Use the nearest AED (defibrillator) to restore the heart to its normal rhythm
  5. Direct EMS personnel to the victim

Find out more about CPR/AED Training and AED Placement

See our Position Statement on SCA Emergency Planning

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Recognizing the signs of sudden cardiac arrest

Learning and recognizing the signs of cardiac arrest is the first step to immediate action. Bystanders can help save a life and time is of the essence.

Liability Concerns

Good Samaritan laws have been passed in all fifty states that protect rescuers from civil immunity in cases where they volunteer to help. This legislation extends to the use of AEDs and applies as long as the rescuer is not paid to perform rescue skills as part of his job. Paramedics, EMTs, and emergency room personnel may not be covered by the same protection afforded to volunteer rescuers.


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1American Heart Association’s Heart & Stroke Statistics - 2020 Update
2Mell et al, 2017, Emergency Medical Service Response Times in Rural, Suburban and Urban Areas. JAMA Surgery, 152(10)