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UK Coaching and Sport England
Rapport Building and Communicating Organising and Planning

How to Respond to a Sudden Cardiac Arrest

Regular physical activity is important for good health. Unfortunately, sudden cardiac arrests can sometimes occur, so being prepared for medical emergencies is vital. In this guide Sport England outlines the steps, as part of 'The Chain of Survival', so you will know what to do in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest.

Know what to do if you witness a cardiac arrest

Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) can happen to even the fittest people and is usually fatal within minutes unless people act on 'The Chain of Survival'. Sports facilities and staff need training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and using an automated external defibrillator (AED) as detailed in the Resuscitation Council.

Start CPR within 1 minute

  • Starting CPR immediately is critical - if untrained, ask the 999 operator for instructions.
  • Rapid access to and early use of a defibrillator (AED) can significantly improve someone’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest.
  • AEDs are easy to use, even without training. The machine tells you what to do.
  • Some AED boxes have access codes: the 999 operator will know the code.

Deliver first AED shock within 5 minutes

  • Every minute without CPR and defibrillation decreases the chances of survival by approximately 10%.
  • Ensure an AED is readily available and easily accessible.
  • Venues should consider one or more AEDs housed in cabinets on the outside of the building so, if closed, the AED is still publicly available 24/7. Mobile events should consider portable AEDs.

CPR / AED Practice

  • An AED is simple to use and is programmed not to deliver a shock unless it is needed.
  • 999 operators will instruct callers in CPR. People already trained will have more confidence and perform better CPR.

SCA Action Plan

SCA action plan should include:

  1. A designated person to develop and implement the plan.
  2. Purchase and regular maintenance of AEDs.
  3. Facility staff SCA awareness, induction and CPR/AED training to maximise confidence when trying to save a life.


Download the infographic

Download a copy of Sport England's infographic, which incorporates all the information on this page into one handy and concise PDF document (which you can save/print off).


Access the Toolkit

Access UK Coaching's free Sudden Cardiac Arrest Digital Learning Toolkit, which includes eLearning, videos and further reading, to enable you to act fast in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest.

Learn More

Related Resources

  • A Cause Close to my Heart – Martin Johnson on the Importance of Sudden Cardiac Arrest Training

  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest: Tips to Help You Be Prepared in a Heart Emergency

  • Sudden Cardiac Arrest: A Coach’s Story


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UK Coaching and Sport England