Pioneering Cardiac Project Saves More Lives

 Thursday 5 September 2013

World leading project increases cardiac survival in Edinburgh

A small team of Scottish Ambulance Service staff in Edinburgh are part of a pioneering project with the Resuscitation Research Group at the University of Edinburgh, led by Dr Gareth Clegg, that has significantly increased survivability rates for out of hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) in the city.

Working in partnership with emergency medical consultants in the Resuscitation Research Group, based at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, the Service created a specially trained team of paramedics targeted to cardiac calls.

The project started in April 2011 and the rate of Return of Spontaneous Circulation (ROSC) for cardiac arrest patients in Lothian is now 23.5%, against a national figure of 17.5%. ROSC is the clinical measure of survivability for OHCA and the target for Scotland, based on World Heath Organisation standards, is 12%-20%.

Now called the Resuscitation Rapid Response Unit (3RU) the team collect and audit data from defibrillators for review, analysis and training and undertake ongoing master classes with consultants and a resuscitation officer to continuously improve resuscitation. A small device is also used to measure CPR as it is administered to patients and the data recovered forms part of the learning programme. Called QCPR, the device also prompts changes in technique during resuscitation, if required.

The 3RU project was developed from an earlier cardiac research project called Topcat, in which Dr Richard Lyon worked closely with paramedics in Edinburgh to measure core temperature and the effects of cooling.

The 3RU project was recognised as world leading when Dr Lyon’s presentation on the initiative beat off competition from 400 other abstracts to win the top prize at the European Resuscitation Council Congress at the end of last year. The project was supported by research funding of around £90,000 from Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland.

The average response time in Scotland for a cardiac related 999 call is currently six minutes and last year ambulance crews saved the lives of 523 patients in cardiac arrest.

Health Secretary Alex Neil said:

 “We know that the sooner people get treatment after a heart attack can mean the difference between life and death. This ground-breaking project is a great example of our NHS and leading academics working together to lead the way and the results from this pilot are already demonstrating that the scheme has real potential to save many more lives.

“For many people our ambulance service is the beating heart of our NHS – providing vital services to people when they need it most.

“It was such a pleasure to meet some of the patients who have benefitted from this project. I am grateful they have taken the time to share their story and I am extremely pleased that they have gone on to make such a good recovery.”

David Garbutt, Chairman, Scottish Ambulance Service, said:

“Out of hospital cardiac arrest remains one of the leading causes of mortality across Europe and the original research project with Dr Lyon identified the potential benefits of developing a specially trained resuscitation team to target cardiac calls.

“Ambulance staff play a pivotal role in determining the outcome of OHCA and the focus on continuously developing and improving resuscitation techniques is saving more lives.

“This is a world leading initiative and we are currently developing plans for appropriate models to roll out the learning and practice across the country.”

Over 500 of the QCPR devices will be used for learning by ambulance crews and volunteer first responders across the country.

Watch coverage from STV on the project.