28 April 2014 - Would you know what to do if someone was in Cardiac Arrest?

The North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) is trying to strengthen the Chain of Survival across Cumbria. By teaching the public basic lifesaving skills such as assessing a patient to see if they are in cardiac arrest, teaching CPR skills and familiarising the public with an Automated External Defibrillator (AED), we hope to increase the survival rate when someone has an out of hospital cardiac arrest.

A cardiac arrest is when the heart stops pumping blood around the body effectively. Someone in cardiac arrest loses consciousness almost at once and stops breathing normally, or stops breathing completely.

Approximately 30 years ago, it was discovered that when someone suffered an out of hospital cardiac arrest; if the following operations happened in a specific order, their chances of survival increased. This concept is now known as the Chain of Survival.

The Chain of Survival is made up of four links; three of which, in order to achieve must be done by someone who has learnt basic lifesaving skills.

  1. Recognise someone is in cardiac arrest is the first step towards helping them.
  2. Early CPR (Cardio Pulmonary Resuscitation): By performing chest compressions you can keep a person's heart pumping until an AED is available.
  3. Early Defibrillation: For every minute a patient in cardiac arrest doesn't have a defibrillator attached to their chest, their chance of survival reduces by 10%.
  4. Early Advanced Care: This is delivered by the emergency crew. If you start CPR within 2 minutes, place a defibrillator on the patient's chest in four minutes and a paramedic arrives in 8, the patient has a 40% chance of survival.

How can you get involved?

We would like as many communities, places of work and public areas to have publically accessible defibrillators. These are defibrillators which are placed in a cabinet so they can be accessed 24 hours a day. In an emergency, a defibrillator can be accessed via a code given to you by the ambulance service when they receive a 999 call.

If you are interested in having a defibrillator in your place of work or community please get in touch with us. We can organise for your staff, members of the public and anyone else that is willing, to learn how to use a defibrillator alongside basic life support skills.

In addition to this, the British Heart Foundation Heartstart courses, run by NWAS are FREE. If you are interested in joining a course, or indeed creating one for a group of friends or work mates, contact Lauren Watson, Chain of Survival Coordinator for NWAS. Email: lauren.watson@nwas.nhs.uk / 07812 303 929.