More than 400,000 people. That is how many people fall victim to it each year in the United States. Every 90 seconds. That’s how often it happens.Within a matter of seconds. That’s how fast it can happen.At best, 10 minutes. That’s how long you have once it happens.Only 5 percent. That’s the survival rate of it if you are not prepared. So, what is “it”? Three words: sudden cardiac arrest (SCA). You might be thinking the 400,000 ﬁgure from the American Heart Association sounds like a “big” number, but so what, it’s just another number, right? Wrong. When we see large statistics, most of us tend to miss the signiﬁcance. So, if you are anything like me, it makes much more sense to break down those numbers. More than 400,000 people each year is equivalent to more than 1,000 people each day, which is equivalent to 1 person every 90 seconds. If that’s not scary enough, here is the scary part: That person that goes down, will go down in a matter of seconds, and in the majority of cases has no symptoms. Most of us are under the impression cardiac arrest is equivalent to a heart attack. The majority of the population is under the impression that both conditions come with the same set of symptoms, and we will have just enough time to get that person to a hospital. Not even close. If we are asked to describe the symptoms of a person that might be having a heart attack, our minds are trained to correlate a heart attack with symptoms such as shooting pain in the left arm, feeling of heaviness on the chest, trouble breathing, sharp pains and so on. A heart attack victim will most likely experience physical discomfort, and in the majority of cases, the victim will be conscious. A physical heart attack can actually take from days to weeks to even months to occur, whereas with SCA, it is much different. A heart attack also is often described as a “plumbing problem” that typically occurs from buildup that eventually blocks the ﬂ ow of blood, which results in an “attack.” SCA is not a “plumbing problem.” It is an electrical problem. You can be a completely healthy individual — you’re active, you eat your fruits and vegetables, drink your water, you do it all — but all of a sudden, BAM! Something in your heart goes haywire. Suddenly, your heart rhythm becomes disrupted and chaotic. Whether you are healthy or not, unlike with a heart attack, SCA does not play favorites in regards to age, gender or how healthy you are. It can be because of an underlying heart condition you never knew you had, and you might not have found out about it until an unfortunate event such as SCA occurs, where in some cases it might already be too late. It just happens. If we think of SCA, the severity of the condition is described in the name: sudden. Sudden cardiac arrest happens without warning and with little to no symptoms. Once it happens, the victim becomes unconscious in a matter of seconds and does not have a pulse: The heart has stopped beating. Scary, right? Without bystander help, that individual has a matter of minutes to live. So, now what? What do you do? When the majority of us are faced with any sort of an emergency, medical or not, we automatically pick up our phones and dial the three magic numbers: 9-1-1. Great! Help is on the way! Now you can sit back and wait for emergency medical services to get there, right? Wrong. Did I mention without bystander help, the person that just went into SCA has a matter of minutes to live? Did I mention without the ﬂow of oxygenated blood to the brain that person won’t make it and if they are “lucky,” they might survive, but with signiﬁcant brain damage? Did I mention that while you do nothing and wait for EMS, that person’s survival rate drops 10 percent every minute? Did I mention the average EMS response time is more than ﬁve minutes? Did I also mention that while waiting for EMS, you, as a bystander, can help save the life of the person that just went into SCA? How? By being prepared. Whether you are in your workplace, your community or your home, knowing the basic steps of how to save a life is key. When it comes to helping someone in cardiac arrest, knowing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and having an automated external deﬁbrillator (AED) are key. When a person goes into cardiac arrest, CPR and an AED are the only things that can help them, and the quicker you provide that help, the better. When cardiac arrest strikes, the heart’s rhythm becomes chaotic, and the heart cannot pump blood to our vital organs properly. The only way to restart that rhythm is by “shocking” the heart back into its normal rhythm via an AED and providing CPR compressions to keep the ﬂow of oxygenated blood to the body’s vital organs. “Shock the heart” and “resuscitate” might sound like scary and complicated actions to someone who is unaware of the use of an AED and CPR, but it shouldn’t be scary at all. AED devices are portable deﬁbrillators that are made with the layperson in mind. An infrequent rescuer who might never have been trained on one can still use one. AEDs are lifesavers because they buy time for the victim. Many people have misconceptions about AEDs, but this is due to a lack of education and awareness. It is crucial to understand when you power on an AED device, it will walk and talk you through the entire rescue. AEDs are able to read the person’s heart rhythm and determine if it is a shockable rhythm. The AED will not shock a person who is not in true cardiac arrest. In fact, in half of all cases, the device will not advise a shock. AEDs also can coach the rescuer on their CPR compressions. So, even if you have never taken a CPR class or been trained on an AED, you can save a life. Take the initiative and be proactive, be informed and be prepared. Don’t wait until it is too late and a person in your community or workplace becomes a statistic. Don’t be left helpless in the instance of an SCA. Take a CPR class and learn the basic lifesaving steps that follow you anywhere. Invest in an AED. You might not use it today or next year or ever. However, if you would need to use it, you can have peace-of-mind knowing it is readily available, and you can pass that on to your employees and customers. We don’t ever plan on having a ﬁre, but we invest in ﬁre extinguishers, right? So, why don’t more of us invest in AEDs? Death from heart disease occurs much more often than death from ﬁres, and being prepared for an SCA can more than triple survival rates.