A cardiac arrest is when the heart suddenly stops pumping blood round the body, starving the brain of oxygen and causing the patient to fall unconscious and stop breathing.
A report from the ambulance service revealed that bystander CPR took place in 8 out of 10 cases of cardiac arrest last year; a figure that stood at just over 5 out of 10 cases in 2014.
Chest compressions, rescue breaths and use of a defibrillator are the only way to help a person in cardiac arrest – without these interventions the person will die.
Use of publicly accessible defibrillators has more than quadrupled in the past five years, but remains relatively low with community-based defibrillators used on just 9.5 percent of the eligible 3,591 patients.
Where resuscitation was attempted, men accounted for 65 percent of cardiac arrest patients and women 35 percent, with 66 years-old the average age of victims. However, cardiac arrest can happen to anyone at any time – 86 patients were children.
It takes the ambulance service six minutes on average to respond to these emergencies. But a person’s chance of survival decreased by around 10 percent for every minute that passes without a resuscitation attempt.
Around 1 in 10 people survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest but where members of the public stepped in and successfully resuscitated a patient before the ambulance arrived, three quarters of people survived and were discharged from hospital.
Those resuscitated by a member of the public with defibrillator from the community were twice as likely to survive as those resuscitated by the ambulance service, showing that speed is of the essence in these situations.
With members of the public able to make a real difference to the lives of people in their communities, we have launched our new ‘CardiacSmart’ accreditation scheme to celebrate and recognise those who actively help to increase survival rates from cardiac arrest.
Organisations, businesses, schools and other publicly accessible locations are invited to apply for CardiacSmart status by taking active steps to make their community safer and healthier.
Successful applicants will be awarded one of three levels of accreditation status; accredited, accredited+ and accredited partner, all of which are determined by specific criteria. This includes having a readily available defibrillator that is checked and maintained regularly and making a commitment to providing life-saving training.
Accredited+ status is awarded to those who have a defibrillator accessible to the community on a 24 hour basis by storing it on the outside of a building in an appropriate cabinet or space within their building.
Accredited partners are groups and communities that champion the ethos of CardiacSmart with a sustained effort in the long term. They continuously promote basic life-support skills, hold awareness sessions to give people the confidence to help a person in cardiac arrest and arrange for the placement of defibrillators.
All of those who achieve accreditation will receive a certificate, a memorandum of understanding signed by both parties and publicity materials to help promote their life-saving status.
Paramedic Community Engagement Manager, David McNally, said: “Every second counts in a cardiac arrest so it’s so important that people in the community step-in and begin the simple but life-saving treatment as soon as possible.
“Doing CPR is the first step – it pushes oxygen around the body to prevent or limit damage to vital organs such as the brain. Defibrillators make the biggest difference and are incredibly easy to use as they speak to you and tell you exactly what to do. They will only deliver a shock to someone who needs it – you cannot get it wrong.
“The increasing numbers of people in the North West of England willing to help in these situations is something we should all be incredibly proud of. Through our cardiac smart accreditation scheme, we will recognise those places that make their communities safer and healthier by promoting life-saving skills and having rescue-ready defibrillators available for nearby emergencies.
“Those who achieve accreditation will belong to a growing network of potential lifesavers and will receive support from the ambulance service to ensure they are able and prepared to save lives.”
Details of how to apply for the accreditation scheme can be found at www.nwas.nhs.uk/cardiacsmart.