“She’s been telling me for a while I need to get an AED, there’s a guy on my team at work with heart problems. The way I see it, he should have been taking care of himself. If something happens, call 911, it’s not my problem.”
After I took a moment to pick my jaw up off the floor, I think I muttered some statistics about how Sudden Cardiac Arrest affects even very healthy people, and most don’t even know they are at risk until it is too late. I knew I wasn’t going to change anyone’s mind in five minutes on an expo floor, even if it was a workplace safety conference. Now it’s been sitting with me for a few weeks, and I know I should try and assume that he not a total jerk and just misinformed (but I think maybe it is a little bit of both), but I want to dispel the misconceptions with this way of thinking.
- Many heart conditions are genetic. Sure, you can practice healthy habits to minimize your risk, but at the end of the day, if someone has a genetic heart condition, it’s not a factor of whether they are taking care of themselves or not.
- Just because you think have a young and healthy workforce does not mean you do not need an AED at your workplace. Most heart conditions that cause Sudden Cardiac Arrest are not discovered until it is too late. Most famously, Lebron James’ son, Bronny, suffered Sudden Cardiac Arrest on the basketball court. He is a young, healthy, and thriving athlete, yet still a victim of SCA. Thankfully, due to quick action, he survived, but on average 90% do not.
- Sudden Cardiac Arrest can also be caused by a variety of other workplace injuries such as a blow to the chest, electrical shock, heat stroke or drowning.
- Yes, you can and should call 911 if someone experiences SCA, but for each minute that passes without care, a victim’s chance of survival decreases by 10%. On average, it takes EMS 7-14 minutes to arrive, you can do the math here. Starting CPR immediately also can double or triple a victim’s chance of survival. So, not only is having an AED vital so it can be applied as soon as possible, but there must be a procedure in place for these emergencies.
But perhaps most importantly of all, people deserve to go to work every day and feel safe. There should not be a question if they will return home to their families that evening. They should not have to wonder if their employer is equipped with proper safety procedures. According to the American Heart Association, 65% of employees would view their employers more positively if they offered CPR training.
Employers have a responsibility not only to minimize risk for the organization, but also to minimize risk for their employees.