03 Feb 2015 - Cardiac Smart at the House of Commons

Thousands of lives could be saved every year in the UK if all children were trained in basic life support, defibrillators were more readily available and screening was introduced for children at risk of heart conditions, said experts from the North West Ambulance Service NHS Trust (NWAS) to an audience of MPs.

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The Trust held an event on 27 January 2015 at the House of Commons, hosted by Andy Burnham, to get parliamentary support for improving survival rates for out of hospital cardiac arrest in the UK, which are currently around 8 per cent.

Guest speakers from NWAS, and those whose life had been saved or who had successfully resuscitated a victim, spoke at the event about the importance of bystanders taking action by calling 999, starting CPR and using a defibrillator to significantly improve chances of survival.

The life-savers and survivors of cardiac arrest who talked about their experiences, including a lady who successfully performed CPR on her husband while being talked through the simple steps by an NWAS call-handler, and a gentleman who was resuscitated by a lake with a public access defibrillator.

NWAS Chief Executive, Bob Williams said: “Early intervention makes the difference between life and death so it’s vital that bystanders know what to do – call 999, start CPR and grab the nearest defibrillator. Teaching these potentially life-saving skills in schools so that children take them throughout their life is an obvious solution.

“Defibrillators are the only way to restart the heart in some cases of cardiac arrests, so having them as readily available as fire extinguishers would make a real difference.

“We would also welcome screening for children at risk of sudden cardiac arrests to prevent unnecessary deaths.

“We want the UK to have the best survival rates for out of hospital cardiac arrests and believe these steps would help get us there.”

Numerous guests signed pledge boards in support of NWAS’ aims, including MPs and Lords who fully supported the need to strengthen the links of the chain of survival to improve out of hospital cardiac arrest survival rates across the UK.