October is Sudden Cardiac Arrest Awareness Month. The Richmond Ambulance Authority wants to remind everyone how important it is to know Hands-Only CPR and what to do if you see someone suddenly collapse. Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. If this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs.

SCA is not the same as a heart attack. A heart attack occurs if blood flow to part of the heart muscle is blocked. During a heart attack, the heart usually doesn’t suddenly stop beating. SCA, however, may happen after or during recovery from a heart attack.

People who have heart disease are at higher risk for SCA. However, SCA can happen in people who appear healthy and have no known heart disease or other risk factors for SCA. SCA usually causes death if it’s not treated within minutes. That’s why it’s critically important to intervene. If you see someone collapse, tap them on the shoulder and ask if they’re ok.

If you do not get a response, point to someone and ask them to call 9-1-1. If you are alone, call 9-1-1 and put your phone on speaker. Second, begin chest compressions by interlocking your hands and pushing hard and fast on the center of chest using the heel of your hand. If there is an Automated external defibrillator (AED) nearby, turn it on and follow its instructions immediately. AEDs can be used by bystanders to save the lives of people who are having SCA. These portable devices often are found in public places, such as shopping malls, golf courses, businesses, airports, airplanes, casinos, convention centers, hotels, sports venues, and schools.nearby, use it immediately.

In most cases a sca will happen outside of a hospital and could be someone you love or know. Knowing what to do can help save a life.