Each year in October sees the collaborative effort of hundreds of clinicians and volunteers working together to train thousands of adults and children in how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) as part of the Restart a Heart campaign. Will you be taking part virtually to learn CPR this year?
The campaign is led in the UK by Resuscitation Council UK alongside our partners the British Heart Foundation, British Red Cross, St John Ambulance and every UK NHS Ambulance service joins in to ensure as many people as possible are trained in this life-saving skill.
Everybody who takes part realise that if more people learn CPR, more lives could be saved. The campaign brings communities together, raising awareness of cardiac arrest and increasing the number of people trained in the UK.
The last 18 months have presented some extraordinary circumstances as we have all come to terms with living during a pandemic, but this doesn’t mean we cannot try and engage with even more people to spread the message that CPR can save lives.
Cardiac arrest can occur at any time and in any place. If you see someone collapse and is not breathing, you need to act fast so they can have the best chance of survival. The most important actions you can take to attempt to save a life are early recognition of cardiac arrest, calling for an Ambulance, starting CPR and using an automated external defibrillator (AED). In adults, defibrillation within 3-5 minutes of collapse may produce survival rates as high as 50-70%.
In the UK, fewer than 1 in 10 people survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. The average overall survival to hospital discharge from over 30,000 NHS resuscitation attempts in an Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest (OHCA) in England is 8.6% (1)
The Chain of Survival shows the steps that need to be taken in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest. The first three steps – Early recognition / call for help, Early CPR and Early defibrillation – all depend on a speedy response by members of the public.
When someone has a cardiac arrest, they collapse and become unresponsive. They either stop breathing entirely, or they might take gasping or infrequent breaths.
If you see someone unconscious or breathing abnormally, ring 999 immediately. You will speak to an Ambulance call handler, who will help you confirm if the person is in cardiac arrest and guide you through doing CPR.
Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) describes the process of compressing the chest to squeeze the heart and pump blood around the body.
First you must place one hand on top of the other on the center of the chest and push hard and fast on the chest to help pump blood around the person’s body. You should keep a steady rhythm of about 120 compressions every minute.
When it comes to CPR, the important thing is to give it a go, remember anything you do could contribute to the patients survival, even if you haven’t done it before, doing something is better than nothing at all. By doing CPR in an emergency, you are giving someone a chance of survival that they wouldn’t have had without you.
To learn how to do CPR, watch the short video above. Why not share this link on social media or ask your friends if they know how to do it? Here at West Midlands Ambulance Service we want everyone to learn this life-saving skill so you will know what to do if someone collapses with a sudden cardiac arrest. By watching and sharing this video, you could save a life.
Automated External Defibrillators
There are thousands of Public Access Defibrillator (PAD) sites across the West Midlands and in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest, if you are close to a PAD site the ambulance call handler will direct you to its location. If you are alone, collect the defibrillator first before starting CPR.
When you switch a defibrillator on, you will receive clear instructions about what to do to deliver a safe shock. If the defibrillator does not advise shocking it will tell you to continue CPR, this is because the heart is not in a shockable state. Remember, using a defibrillator is very easy, it cannot hurt you or the person suffering a cardiac arrest and using one can increase the chance of survival.
Public access defibrillators can be found in shopping centres, airports, railway stations, restaurants, gymnasiums, schools and lots of other locations. If you have a defibrillator, make sure it is registered on the National Defibrillator Network (The Circuit). This will ensure that it will be available to the ambulance service in the event of a sudden cardiac arrest. You can do so here https://www.thecircuit.uk/
You can get in touch with your local ambulance service for advice about placing a defibrillator in your area by emailing CFRAdmin@wmas.nhs.uk
(With thanks to Bromsgrove CFR Steve Hart for filming and producing the above videos)