Parents of all children should learn CPR and how to use an AED in order to reduce the risk of injuries and sudden arrhythmia death syndrome (SADS)
CPR skills, including recognition of signs of breathing difficulties and cardiac arrest, are particularly important if a child has heart disease and is at risk for sudden arrhythmias including sudden death, but since SADS is often not detected until a sudden arrhythmia occurs, all parents should be able to cope with a cardiac emergency.
Parents should know what to do if their child suddenly collapses and becomes unresponsive. If a child under 8 years old is found unresponsive, the typical sequence of actions for a lone rescuer includes performing about one minute of CPR, then phoning 1-4-4 or other emergency medical services (EMS) number (CPR first, phone fast). The reason for this sequence is that most children who suffer cardiopulmonary arrest have breathing problems and need prompt rescue breathing with other steps of CPR.
However, when a parent is alone with the child with heart disease and that child collapses suddenly, the likely cause of the collapse is sudden cardiac arrest. In this case, the parent should phone 1-4-4 first, then begin CPR (phone first, then CPR) and connect an AED as soon as possible.
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