CPR and AEDs
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)
Early and effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can significantly increase a person’s chance of survival during a cardiac arrest – when the heart stops beating. Hands-only CPR, which means compressions only and no rescue breaths and pushing hard and fast on the center of the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute, can help maintain blood flow to the brain and vital organs.
Since most cardiac arrests happen at home, learning how and when to perform CPR is crucial. There are several levels of CPR available. Learning CPR is easy and inexpensive, search for an accredited CPR agency in your area or visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
CPR During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Even during a pandemic, you can still save a life while taking action to protect yourself from COVID-19 transmission. If you encounter a person who may be in cardiac arrest, you should follow these modified CPR steps:
Check for signs of cardiac arrest: A person who has no response when you shake and shout AND is not breathing or is making strange gasping sounds. Do not listen or feel for breathing by placing your ear and cheek close to the person’s mouth; simply observe the person’s breathing.
Call 9-1-1: Tell them you have found someone unconscious and not breathing normally.
Protect Yourself: Wearing a mask can help protect you from the virus. If available, you can wear gloves as well. Lay a cloth, towel, or clothing over the person’s mouth and nose (like a mask) to prevent any potential spread of virus.
Provide Hands-Only CPR: Push hard and fast in the centre of the chest with one hand on top of the other (think of the beat of Stayin' Alive or about 100 to120 beats per minute), and don't stop until paramedics or other responders arrive. Do not give rescue breaths, just continuous compressions. The 9-1-1 dispatcher will coach you if needed.
Use an automated external defibrillator (AED) if available. AEDs are very safe and simple to use – simply turn it on and follow the voice prompts.
Chain of Survival
The Chain of Survival is the process to follow to provide the best possible outcome for someone suffering a cardiac arrest. Each link represents a vital step. When you follow these steps, you decrease the amount of time between sudden cardiac arrest and advanced care. The six links in the Chain of Survival are:
The first three stages of the Chain of Survival can be action taken by the bystander. Quickly calling 9-1-1 and starting CPR combined with the use of an AED can increase the likelihood of survival by 75% or more!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is CPR?
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is an emergency lifesaving procedure performed when the heart stops beating. Early and effective CPR can significantly increase a person’s chance of survival during a cardiac arrest. Hands-only CPR, which means compressions only and no rescue breaths and pushing hard and fast on the center of the chest at a rate of 100 to 120 compressions per minute, can help maintain blood flow to the brain and vital organs.
What is an Automated External Defibrillator (AED)?
An Automated External Defibrillator (AED) is an electronic medical device that is used to detect specific heart rhythms that occur when someone has gone into cardiac arrest. When the AED detects an abnormal “shockable” rhythm, it will produce an electrical charge through the heart in an attempt to reset the heart back into a normal rhythm. The device uses a series of voice prompts to guide the user through the process. When the user follows the prompts from an AED there is very little risk to the rescuer and patient. There are various types of AEDs and manufacturers. Regardless of the manufacturer or appearance, they function the same way once the unit is powered on.
Where can I find an AED?
AEDs are located throughout our community, including in schools, emergency shelters, sports and recreational facilities, Regional and government offices and private businesses. An AED in a public facility should be accessible to anyone. No training is required to use these devices. Below are some examples of some different models of AEDs that can be found through York Region.
Why are AEDs so important?
Automated external defibrillators are very safe and easy to use and can increase a person’s chance of survival by up to 75% when used together with CPR! Multiple studies show the chances of survival for an individual who is left untreated due to cardiac arrest decreases by 7 to 10% per minute. Survival rates as high as 90% have been reported when a defibrillator has been applied within the first minute. The chances of surviving increase even more when chest compressions (CPR) are also done.
What is cardiac arrest?
Cardiac arrest or a sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) occurs when the heart has abnormal electrical activity, or rhythms, that compromise the individual’s ability to circulate blood properly. Most of the time when cardiac arrest occurs the heart goes into either Ventricular Fibrillation (VF) or Ventricular Tachycardia (VT). When the heart is in one of these rhythms there is no real circulatory function. An AED is programmed to recognize these ‘shockable’ rhythms and to deliver a shock or a defibrillation.
How important is it to do CPR and use an AED?
Someone’s life can depend on it!
- Studies show the chances of survival for an individual who is left untreated due to cardiac arrest decreases by 7 to 10% per minute
- Survival rates as high as 90% have been reported when a defibrillator has been applied within the first minute
- Survival rates for SCA are highest if the defibrillator’s shock has been given within the first three minutes of collapsing
- When the application of an AED is delayed beyond 10 minutes, the chances of irreversible brain damage increases significantly, and the survivability deceases to less than 2%
- Not every AED can be applied within one minute of a person suffering cardiac arrest, which is why Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) is also important
- CPR that is performed prior to a defibrillator can “buy time” until an AED arrives. CPR will help preserve brain and heart function because compressions will circulate blood
What if I do CPR wrong?
The only bad CPR is the CPR that is not done at all. There is a chance that doing chest compressions can break a rib, but early CPR and application of an AED can save a life!
Are AEDs safe to use?
AEDs are very safe and easy to use. AEDs provide step-by-step visual and/or voice prompts to allow even untrained bystanders to use the device correctly and include a safety feature that prevents unneeded shocks. An AED will only deliver a shock when it senses one of two cardiac rhythms (or patterns of electrical activity in the heart) and they will not try to deliver a shock at any other time.
Can anyone use an AED?
Yes! AEDs provide step-by-step visual and/or voice prompts to allow even untrained bystanders to use the device correctly and include a safety feature that prevents unneeded shocks.
Why is AED training recommended?
Training is not required to use an AED. However, even though these devices are very easy to use, trained rescuers will be better equipped to recognize the signs of cardiac arrest, activate 9-1-1 effectively, and be familiar with how the AED operates, potential hazards, and special considerations. Having the training can greatly impact the Chain of Survival.
Where can I receive CPR and AED training?
Learning CPR and how to use an AED is easy and inexpensive. Search for an accredited CPR agency in your area or visit the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada.
Basic CPR and AED steps
- Ask, “are you okay?”
- Tap the shoulder
- Look for breathing (abnormal breathing may require CPR)
- Send someone to call 9-1-1
- Send someone to get an AED
- Place both hands on the center of the chest
- Lean over patient with elbows straight
- Push down the center of person’s chest
- Push hard and push fast
- Keep going until an AED or Paramedics arrive
- Expose the person’s chest
- Turn on device
- Follow the AED prompts
What to do after using an AED?
If an AED has been used, please contact York Region Paramedic Services as soon as possible to facilitate data collection for the patient.
To notify Paramedic Services that an AED has been used, contact @email
Register your AED
York Region Paramedic Services collects information on locations of AEDs within York Region. This information is shared with 9-1-1 dispatchers so they can let the caller know that there is an AED nearby. By registering your AED, you will also be informed of any changes in AED and CPR protocols by one of York Region’s lead paramedics.
If you would like to register your AED with York Region Paramedic Services, please email @email
Thank you for your interest in connecting with York Region Paramedic Services for your community event or education session. Unfortunately at this time, we are experiencing limited resources for staffing outreach events. While we continue to make attempts to attend large priority events across the Region, we are not currently able to staff school fun fairs, classroom visits, festivals, camp visits or charity events. We apologize and wish you all the best in your event planning.