New Strategy Launched To Save More Lives From Cardiac Arrest

 Friday 27 March 2015

A new strategy has been launched which aims to save 1,000 lives from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) over the next five years.

Scotland’s Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Strategy is the first such comprehensive document produced on a national scale anywhere in the world.

Maureen Watt, Minister for Public Health, introduced the strategy at the Scottish Cardiac Arrest Symposium, an international gathering of leading experts, in Edinburgh today.

She also confirmed that £100,000 of health consequential spending resulting from last week’s budget will be used to support delivery of the strategy and improve access to defibrillators.

The strategy sets a goal of increasing survival rates from OHCA by 10 per cent at the end of the five year strategy. This would mean around 1,000 lives being saved by 2020.
Some of the aims are:
• Equipping a further 500,000 people with CPR skills by 2020
• Improved mapping of defibrillators so that emergency call handlers can quickly direct members of the public to them
• Ensure that patients are always taken to a place with appropriate post cardiac arrest care
• To provide better support to survivors and their families and ensure that any any bystanders and others impacted by OHCA are given support after the event
• To reduce inequalities in survival
• To increase people’s confidence to attempt CPR if they witness a cardiac arrest

When a person goes into cardiac arrest their heart and breathing stops, meaning they will die in minutes. Prompt resuscitation, by CPR or if needed, a defibrillator, is essential to improve chances of survival. CPR delivered quickly can increase chances of survival threefold.

The strategy has been jointly produced by a range of stakeholders including the Scottish Government, Scottish Ambulance Service, British Heart Foundation, Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and Police Scotland

A key element of the strategy is for all these stakeholders to work together to improve the crucial ‘chain of survival’ from the moment of cardiac arrest, through to hospital admission and into aftercare.

Maureen Watt said:

“Currently around one in 20 people survive cardiac arrest. We want to greatly increase that number, and that is what this strategy is all about.

“The best way to ensure that more people survive out-of-hospital cardiac arrest is to increase the number of people who have CPR skills, and crucially, to make sure they are confident enough to attempt resuscitation if the need arises.

“If we succeed in our aims, there will be 1,000 lives saved by 2020. That is an ambitious target, but it is one that we believe is achievable and well worth aiming for.

“I am also pleased to be able to confirm that a further £100,000 of investment to support this strategy.”

Jim Ward, Medical Director, Scottish Ambulance Service, said:
“Ambulance staff play a pivotal role in saving lives and the focus on continuously developing and improving resuscitation efforts is key to this.

"Our 3RU  initiative that specifically targets cardiac arrests with the most appropriate paramedic response has increased survival rates. Our ambulance teams provide bystander CPR advice and our community resilience teams deliver a wide range of initiatives around the country, including First Responder programmes, community CPR training and provision of public access defibrillators.

“The Scottish Ambulance Service will continue to develop partnerships with allied organisations and communities, saving lives across Scotland."

Simon Gillespie, British Heart Foundation Chief Executive, said:
“Scotland has already embraced the concept of creating a nation of lifesavers, and we’re now supporting around three quarters of secondary schools in teaching their pupils vital CPR skills.

“And today, we’re delighted to see the launch of the Scottish Government’s Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest strategy. This is a real commitment to ensuring Scotland leads the way in creating a nation of lifesavers, and improving outcomes for people who suffer a cardiac arrest.”

Wendy Armitage, Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland Cardiac Manager, said:
“We know that there is much more to be done for people who survive cardiac arrest. Survivors often have specific needs such as social and psychological, however these needs are not being identified and addressed.  Family and peer support is crucial for these patients, so the charity supports a network of affiliated heart groups across Scotland where people can speak to other people in similar circumstances.”

Fred Lippet, Professor of Emergency Medicine, Chief Executive of the Ambulance Service in Denmark, and one of the world’s leading experts in OHCA, said:

“This is a fantastic strategy and, although it is stretching, I believe Scotland will achieve its goals due to the commitments made in the strategy.”

Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest: A Strategy for Scotland can be seen here: