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Initial action in a cardiac arrest

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

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.

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