In most parts of the world, people who suffer a sudden cardiac arrest outside of the hospital setting have a less than 1% chance of surviving and being capable of one day walking out of the hospital and returning to their previous lives. So, why is so much time spent training, researching and focussing on treating cardiac arrests?
First of all, this is the exciting stuff, and the stuff that ends up on television… so, unfortunately, even if you know that you’re probably not doing anyone any favours, you’re still going to spend alot of your career as a paramedic practicing CPR and Cardiac Arrest drills.
Secondly, there is still that 1% chance that you will have quite literally saved a person’s life! It does happen from time to time…
Thirdly, and this was an interesting different concept… the rate of survival as far as the patient making it to hospital and then dying later is much higher than 1% (some statistics say as high as 26%), and these patients, sometime have previously agreed to be an organ donor. I treated an 18 year old with a bad traumatic brain injury (okay, most of his brain was missing) and we knew that even if we could treat his cardiac arrest, he was never going to be conscious again. However, the mother was there, and she insisted and so we continued. He got a cardiac output back, and we got him to hospital. I recieved a phone call from a doctor who was part of the organ donation team thanking me… as a result of prolonging this persons life, he was able to contribute his organs to 7 other persons who could survive. This is now the number one reason that I make sure that I’m good at treating cardiac arrests.