initial action in a cardiac arrest

Last reviewed 01/2018

Is the patient unresponsive?

Then open airway, look for signs of life (call Resuscitation Team)

CPR 30:2 Until defibrillator / monitor attached.

Once the monitor is attached the ECG diagnosis can be made.

The algorithm splits into two:

  • shockable (ventricular fibrillation or pulseless ventricular tachycardia (VF/pulseless VT))
  • non-shockable (pulseless electrical activity and asystole)


If a collapse is witnessed a precordial thump may be given while the monitor/defibillator is being attached.