What to do in the event of a cardiac emergency


You’re working the cycle in the offensive end, and as you cut hard to the net after a neat give-and-go, out of the corner of your eye you see your buddy go down. You immediately think he’s doing his best Claude Lemieux ‘caterpillar’ impression trying to get an arm up from stripes. He’s looking like Alexei Kovalev in 1994, spending more time on the ice than the Zamboni. But as you skate closer to, you realize he isn’t taking a dive – his life is on the line.

Someone can go into cardiac arrest without warning. They can have a sudden collapse, no pulse, no breathing and a loss of consciousness.

Do you know what do to when a teammate goes into cardiac arrest on the ice?

What is an AED?

First off, do you know what an AED is?

An AED, or an automated external defibrillator is a portable device that delivers an electric shock through the chest to the heart that can stop an irregular heart rhythm and allow a normal rhythm to resume following sudden cardiac arrest.

The Nanaimo Project

Nanaimo, BC’s AED program is having a wide-reading impact in their recreational facilities. The plan was rolled out in 2009, as an initiative to install the technology and getting people comfortable and familiar with this life-saving equipment. Since then it’s been used four times, three times by citizens – leading to life-saving experiences.

It’s this type of forward thinking by city officials and community members to install AED’s and provide the education surrounding it that shows how easy it is to set up this kind of initiative – and why more people should follow suit.

What’s The Difference Between a Heart Attack and Cardiac Arrest?

Cardiac arrest is when the heart is getting the wrong signals and starts beating erratically and can actually stop beating. Sometimes that can come from a heart attack where the heart is just not getting enough blood supply, but sometimes it can happen out of the blue. Most heart attacks do not lead to sudden cardiac arrest, but when sudden cardiac arrest occurs, heart attack is a common cause. It’s important to know however – that both of those can kill you. 

Think of cardiac arrest as the result of a problem with your heart’s electrical system, where a heart attack is more with plumbing – when blood flow to the heart is blocked.

Save a Life in 3 Steps

Firstly, you need to know where the AED is located in your home rink and whenever you’re at an away game, always locate the AED before you hit the ice.

When somebody is unresponsive, there are three things you need to do right away.

  1. Call 911: Someone needs to call 911 immediately – while another hustles to get the AED. 
  1. Start CPR: With 100 compressions per minute. Keep doing this until a portable defibrillator is available or emergency personnel arrive. Here’s a trick – do CPR to the beat of the Bee Gee’s song, Stayin’ Alive to stay on pace.


  1. Use the AED: Every minute an AED is delayed, the death rate goes up 7-10%. However, if CPR is administered and an AED is used, survival rates increase by up to 75%. 
  • Open the machine (it will actually talk to you and tell you what to do)
  • Remove all clothing or equipment from the patients’ chest.
  • Pull off the sticky pads and apply them to their bare skin. It will actually tell you where to put them on their chest.
  • Each pad has a lead that analyzes the heart rate and knows when to give the patient a shock.
  • It may tell you to resume chest compressions, and while you’re doing that, it’s reading the patients’ heart rate and might escalate the power and shock them again.

Preparation is key to responding quickly to a cardiac emergency. Watch this video to know exactly what to do when someone goes down.

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