Medical Cardiac Arrest




  • Past medical history
  • Medications
  • Events leading to arrest
  • End stage renal disease
  • Estimated downtime
  • Suspected hypothermia
  • Suspected overdose
  • DNR form or living will


Significant Findings:


  • Unresponsive
  • Pulseless
  • Apneic
  • No electrical activity on EKG
  • Ventricular fibrillation/ventricular tachycardia
  • No auscultated heart tones




  • Medical/trauma
  • Hypoxia/pulmonary
  • Potassium (hypo/hyper)
  • Drug overdose
  • Acidosis
  • Hypothermia
  • Device error/artifact


Criteria for Death/DNR


  • Yes


Withhold Resuscitation:


  • Rigor mortis and/or dependent lividity
  • Body decomposition
  • Asystole with extended/unknown down time
  • Decapitation
  • Incineration
    • Contact Medical Control or Coroner


Criteria for Death/DNR?


  • No
    • Cardiac monitor / AED
    • Treat correctable causes early
    • Place advanced airway and provide 8-10 breaths per minutes
    • Initiate IV/IO


V-Fib/Pulseless V-Tach?


  • Yes
    • Defibrillate 200, 300,360 joules
    • All subsequent shocks at 360 joules
    • Epinephrine 1 mg IV/IO repeat every 3-5 mins.
    • Amiodarone (cardarone) 300 mg IV/IO repeat once at 150 mg.
    • Place 2nd VI/IO when feasible


Asystole / PEA?


  • Yes
    • Place 2nd IV/IO if necessary


Return of spontaneous circulation?


  • YES



  • NO





  • CPR 100-120 compressions per minute and at a depth of no less than 2 inches with interruptions less than 5 seconds.
  • Monitor in paddles mode.
  • Torsades de pointes administer, Magnesium Sulfate 2 g/4mL slow IV push over 2 minutes.
  • If patient is receiving shocks from an automated internal cardiac defibrillator (AICD), wait 30-60 seconds after the internal shock to analyze the rhythm and then treat the patient as if the AICD was not present.
  • Placement of the defibrillator pads should be approximately 3 inches away from the device if possible. Posterior/anterior placement is acceptable.
  • Always confirm asystole in more than one lead.
  • Only move the patient enough to make adequate room to work.
  • All resuscitations initiated at the jail must be transported.
  • Consider transport with persistent V-fib.
  • Assign a team resuscitation leader and utilize checklist.
  • Reassess and document endotracheal tube placement and EtCO2 frequently, after every move, and at transfer of care.
  • Consider applying new defibrillator pads to the anterior and posterior position on refractory V-fib.