A cardiac arrest is the most extreme emergency and happens when the heart stops pumping in a normal way, preventing blood from circulating around the body. It can happen at anybody at any age, anytime, anywhere.
Someone who is having a cardiac arrest will suddenly lose consciousness and will stop breathing normally. There are usually no obvious symptoms or warning signs prior to this happening. Unless immediately treated with CPR and defibrillation, the person will die within minutes.
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. The term refers to the steps that can be taken to keep someone alive until ambulance crews take over. These skills include chest compressions to manually pump blood around the body, and rescue breaths to provide oxygen.
Combining chest compressions with rescue breaths is the ‘gold standard’ as is particularly important to do if the person in cardiac arrest is a child, but ‘hands only’ is a useful alternative for untrained bystanders or those unwilling to give rescue breaths.
We’d like as many public areas, communities and workplaces to have publicly accessible defibrillators – otherwise known as defibs. These are placed in a cabinet that can be accessed 24 hours a day by anyone who needs to use one. In an emergency, the cabinet is accessed via a code given to the person who rings 999.
If you already have a defib that’s great! Please make sure you tell us about it so we can make sure anyone who rings us for a cardiac arrest can access the nearest defib to them.
- In the UK, around 60,000 people have an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest every year
- Less than one in 10 people survive a cardiac arrest
- One of the main reasons for this is the lack of action from bystanders before ambulance crews arrive
- Defibrillation within five minutes can result in survival rates as high 70%
- We need bystanders need to take action by using defibrillators in the community
- Defibrillators should be as readily available as fire extinguishers
Working with communities
We have a Community Resuscitation team dedicated to strengthening the ‘chain of survival’ in communities across the North West. By installing defibrillators or teaching people basic life support skills, we want everyone in cardiac arrest to have the best chance of survival, no matter when or where they take ill.
The team is also responsible for training and supporting our community first responders and GoodSAM volunteers (link to responders and GoodSAM pages).
If you’re interested in having a defib in your workplace or community, or if you’d like to arrange CPR training for a group of colleagues or your community group, please get in touch – firstname.lastname@example.org.
We also recognise, celebrate and support those who actively help to increase survival rates from cardiac arrest through our CardiacSmart accreditation scheme.