Every year around 30,000 Australians and New Zealanders suffer out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. With only 1 in 10 of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest suffers surviving, bystanders play an important role in increasing the chances of saving someone’s life.

This is where Call, Push, Shock comes in to play, a series of basic life support steps that, when followed promptly, give the best chance of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Each of these simple steps can and should be performed by anyone.

Every minute matters when treating cardiac arrest and as the Australian Resuscitation Council advises: any attempt at resuscitation is better than no attempt.


Call – to get help

Prompt recognition of cardiac arrest is key. If someone is not responsive and not breathing normally, immediately call emergency services (000) and get an AED. An early call for help gives the next two steps the greatest opportunity for success, because the sooner the ambulance arrives, the sooner advanced care can begin.

Push – CPR to buy time

Start delivering cardiopulmonary resuscitation as soon as possible. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is a combination of chest compressions and airway ventilation. Use a ratio of 30 compressions to two breaths or compression only. Chest compressions help oxygenated blood flow to the person’s brain and heart until an AED can be used to attempt to restore normal heart pumping or advanced medical personnel arrive.

Shock – defibrillation to restart heart

Attach an AED as soon as possible and follow the prompts. It is universally recognised that early defibrillation significantly improves survival rates. Survival can be significantly improved even 6-10 minutes after arrest, as long as effective CPR has been started early in the arrest. It is thought that good CPR may even increase the likelihood of defibrillation success. However, CPR alone is not enough – only defibrillation can shock a heart back into a normal rhythm.

After Call, Push, Shock, survival becomes dependant on advanced care. Paramedics and other highly trained EMS personnel provide this advanced life support, which can include basic life support, defibrillation, administration of cardiac drugs, and the insertion of endotracheal breathing tubes (intubation). They can help maintain a normal heart rhythm after successful defibrillation and monitor the patient on the way to the hospital.

Knowing these three easy steps means you know how to help someone survive sudden cardiac arrest. but to make Call, Push, Shock effective, AED access is critical. Don’t let a lack of AEDs stop you from saving a life.