Sudden Cardiac Arrest – What Would You Do? • Cardiovascular Network of Canada — CANet
CANet — Cardiac Arrhythmia Network of Canada

Sudden Cardiac Arrest – What Would You Do?

On October 13, 2015, Claire Crawford was playing in a high school volleyball match when she went into cardiac arrest.
Well-trained and quick-thinking staff called 911, started performing chest compressions, and retrieved the on-site automatic external defibrillator (AED) to defibrillate (“shock”) the heart back into rhythm.
Claire’s parents had set up a camera in the stands to film the game and recorded the entire event. Click here to watch it, but be warned that you may find the footage graphic.
Eleven minutes after Claire collapsed, paramedics arrived on the scene. Without the trained staff and the access to an AED, this story likely would have had a tragic ending. It didn’t, because staff initiated the first three steps in the cardiac chain of survival.
Up to 40,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur in Canada each year – that’s one every 12 minutes. If the victim does not have access to immediate treatment, most outcomes will be fatal.
But, according to the Heart & Stroke Foundation of Canada, when someone immediately begins CPR, and an AED is available, the chance of survival may be increased by 75 per cent or more. And use of an AED combined with CPR and emergency medical services, as was the case with Claire, offers the best chance of survival.
What if it happened to you?
If you live in Manitoba and you go into cardiac arrest in a public place, chances are there will be a defibrillator nearby. Under Manitoba’s Defibrillator Public Access Act, designated public places in the province are now required to have an AED.
Anywhere else in Canada, hopefully you will be in a recreation centre or arena that opted into the National AED Program. This federally-funded program provided $10 million to cover the cost of purchasing and installing AEDs, and providing training to staff or other facility-users in centres and arenas across Canada.
What if you witnessed it happening to someone else?
Do you know how to administer CPR? Click here to find a Canadian Red Cross CPR course in your area.
According to the American Heart Association, when effective bystander CPR is administered immediately, it can double or even triple a victim’s chance of survival.
You can be a vital link in the chain of survival.
Sudden Cardiac Death is one of three pillars in CANet’s research strategy. Click here to learn about our goals.