American Heart Association guidelines

This section is based on the American Heart Association guidelines

Recognising cardiac arrest can be difficult. The mechanism of an unwitnessed collapse or a collapse that occurred away from contact – players do not “faint” on the Rugby pitch - should always be assessed with cardiac arrest in mind. All such casualties should be initially approached via the DR ABC and MILS system. When assessing responsiveness, tap their shoulder and shout, “Are you OK?”. Note if the player is not breathing or not breathing normally (gasping) and decide if the player needs to be moved.

To decide if a cardiac arrest has occurred in an unresponsive player, the key assessment is whether the player is breathing “NORMALLY”. This needs to be interpreted in context as the player may have been sprinting the length of the pitch just before the collapse and so you would expect them to be breathing rapidly and with symmetrical chest movement.

Safe approach: Make sure the area is clear

Assess: Tap and shout, “Are you OK?"

Call for help

Airway and breathing: Check for signs of ‘normal’ breathing; dusky colour and agonal breathing (gasping) is NOT normal

Send someone to phone for Emergency Services and bring an AED

Start CPR