Each year, 30,000 people will experience a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital – in places such as their home, at work or out in public. Sadly, only one in ten will survive.
Performing immediate CPR can double a person’s chance of survival in the event of a cardiac arrest.
CPR stands for cardiopulmonary resuscitation. It is a lifesaving medical procedure given to someone who is not breathing or in cardiac arrest. By performing chest compressions, you keep blood pumping around the body whilst their heart can’t, increasing their chances of survival.
Many people are not aware of the difference between a heart attack and a cardiac arrest, and therefore are not aware how vital this lifesaving procedure is for the latter.
A heart attack occurs when one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked, stopping blood and oxygen from getting to the heart properly. A cardiac arrest is when a person’s heart stops pumping blood around the body, and in turn, they will stop breathing.
Signs of a heart attack include chest pain, shortness of breath and feeling weak or lightheaded. Both a heart attack and a cardiac arrest are an emergency and need urgent medical attention by dialling 999.
When someone experiences a cardiac arrest, their heart has stopped. They will collapse and be unresponsive, and although breathing has stopped it is not uncommon in the first few minutes for a victim to make noisy, infrequent gasps. If you see someone who is unconscious, unresponsive, and either not breathing or not breathing normally – you should call 999 immediately and begin CPR.
Statistics show that only one in four people are trained in CPR, and 40% of people say they would be reluctant to intervene or provide basic first aid in an emergency due to lack of skills or knowledge.
Over a third of the missions our Critical Care Team are called to are cardiac arrests – where someone’s heart and breathing have stopped. In a situation when someone’s life is in danger, every second counts. Our crew can be anywhere in the region within 20 minutes, but the care a patient receives in the time before they arrive, can be the difference between life and death.
That’s why it is vital that people are equipped with the skills and confidence to perform effective bystander CPR.
Find out more about how you can learn CPR from the Resuscitation Council UK guidelines and training.
Here at GWAAC, we run our own Great Western Heartstarters programme, which aims to teach school children within our region how to deliver effective bystander CPR and use an automated external defibrillator (AED) in the event of a medical emergency.
Read how CPR and urgent medical attention saved Trevor’s life after he experienced a cardiac arrest in the street.