CPR Same but different

Learning CPR

640,790 Scots equipped with CPR skills

Today, on International Restart a Heart Day, the Save a Life for Scotland partnership celebrate five years of working together to help more people learn CPR so that should they ever need to do it, they feel more prepared. Despite not being able to reach people face to face since March, they had managed to equip an amazing 640,790 people with CPR skills up until lockdown in March 2020.

The Save a Life for Scotland Partnership has collectively contributed to a 45% increase in 30-day survival rates for those who have had an out-of-hospital cardiac, arrest doubling to 1 in 10 since the strategy launch in 2015.

When it comes to bystander CPR, the numbers continuing to do it this year in Scotland are pretty incredible. As a nation, amongst everything that’s going on, bystander CPR rates haven’t changed. When someone needs CPR Scots are still helping, still caring and making an incredible difference. Today, the campaign wants to remind you that calling for help and starting CPR is still the right thing to do.

Every year about 3,500 people are treated for an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest by ambulance crews in Scotland. The Scottish Ambulance Service have made significant improvements to our response to out of hospital cardiac arrest, including early decision making, meaning patients with immediately life-threatening conditions are now being identified earlier in the 999 call process, and treated more rapidly.

When you call 999 and a cardiac arrest is identified, our highly trained call handlers will provide clear instructions on how to perform CPR. Remember any delay in commencing CPR could decrease chances of survival drastically so we ask you to assist right away. Early bystander CPR can increase someone’s chance of survival by 2-3 times.

We understand you may be concerned about what the risks may be around CPR during COVID-19 and CPR guidance has changed slightly due to the current pandemic. Research conducted on behalf of the Resuscitation Council (UK) revealed that a third of UK adults don’t know if, during the COVID-19 pandemic, CPR should only be carried out by professionals wearing PPE.

We want to reassure you that bystander CPR should still be carried out while the ambulance service is on the way and our highly trained call handlers will support you to give essential lifesaving support, in a safe way, until help arrives.

Dr Andrew Lockey, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and co-lead for World Restart a Heart Day, Resuscitation Council UK said: “The principle message for Restart a Heart is that you can still save a life, whilst keeping yourself safe.”

The Resuscitation Council (UK) advise that if you have to administer bystander CPR place a cloth or a towel loosely over the persons face to reduce the risk of any spread.

The Save a Life for Scotland campaign have created a page where you can refresh your CPR knowledge, learn of the small changes to the guidance and perhaps learn for the first time - take a look and learn today. https://www.savealife.scot/adult-resources/learn-cpr/

To showcase how every step of the ‘chain of survival’ is so important to save lives, Robert Hogg shares his story.


A man who had a cardiac arrest on a family holiday said he would not be alive today if not for the Scottish Ambulance Service, the Coastguard and off duty medical staff who swiftly came to his aid. Robert Hogg was at Sands Campsite, Gairloch, with his wife on August 22 when he collapsed.

He has praised the efforts of everyone involved, including the off duty GP and dive medic who performed CPR until Scottish Ambulance Service arrived, the Coastguard, who transported Robert to Raigmore Hospital, and the hospital staff. Robert, 54, said: “I remember a few bits before it happened. I walked off to go to the rubbish bins. I dumped the rubbish and turned back around and then I collapsed.”

Robert, a climate control engineer, said he recalled “not feeling great” 10 minutes before he had the cardiac arrest. After he collapsed, an off duty GP and medic diver were nearby and rushed to the scene to give CPR. He said: “It was pure luck it happened where it did – if it had happened at the caravan I would be under the ground. It’s a huge site.

“A GP was having his dinner at a restaurant. There was also a paramedic diver, who was drying his towels, who started CPR.” A nearby community AED placed by Scottish Charity Lucky2BHere [L2BH] was also located and the GP and diver used it until emergency responders from the Scottish Ambulance Service arrived. Robert was in hospital until the Wednesday following the incident after getting airlifted from the Coastguard SAR. Despite not recalling the incident, his wife has relayed what happened.

He said: “I would not be here if not for everyone involved. Even in such a remote area, they were still able to provide the care and attention I needed. I cannot thank everybody enough. I owe these people my life.”

The story goes further to showcase the importance of community resilience as a key step in the chain of survival because the lifesaving Big Sands L2BH defibrillator used to save Robert’s life was unveiled just last year by Gairloch local, Cherril Parry, whose own life was saved by a community L2BH defibrillator in 2018.

Despite enduring such serious illness, Cherill championed fundraising for a new defibrillator for the area. The ‘Red Phone Box’ where it is located, is well known in the community and when Robert had his cardiac arrest, his team of rescuers knew the location and retrieved the L2BH defibrillator, immediately helping save Robert’s life.

The staff involved in helping this patient were East EMD, Karen Russell, North Supervisor, Alistair Dargie, North Dispatcher Blair Gordon, SSD: Richard Fisher, Sarah Morrison, Michael McKenna, and and Alan McLean.

Blair Gordon said: "It was an incident which highlights the effectiveness of the chain of survival. The patient received early CPR and defibrillation along with the nearest available crew mobilised to provide high quality paramedic-level care. The patient was then rapidly conveyed to the nearest major hospital at Raigmore by coastguard helicopter to continue delivering enhanced post-resuscitation care. Everybody involved, from the members of public on scene to the crews, control rooms and coastguard, worked seamlessly to mean the patient received the best possible chance of a recovery from the incident."

Lisa MacInnes, Director of the Save a Life for Scotland campaign said:

“Scotland as ever, continues to step up to look out for each other in their families and communities. COVID-19 has highlighted that Scots are ready and willing to care for those around them and when it comes to CPR they continue to be willing to get help and start CPR. Our message today is please keep going. Your actions continue to give people the best chance of survival. Please use and share our videos with others to keep the message going that any CPR beats no CPR.”

Public Health Minister Joe FitzPatrick said:

“Starting CPR immediately after the heart stops beating can double, and sometimes triple the chances of survival. The Save a Life for Scotland campaign is an excellent example of how we can all work together to improve a person’s chance of survival. Despite the challenges faced this year, people in Scotland continue to demonstrate a willingness to help. I would encourage everyone to learn CPR online.”

Pauline Howie – Chief Executive for Scottish Ambulance Service

"The Scottish Ambulance Service would like to say a massive thank you for what you have helped us, and all the strategy partners, to achieve over the last five years. Bystander CPR is the most crucial link in the chain of survival and because so many more of you have learnt and been willing to perform bystander CPR we have seen survival double in that time; double the number of people surviving and returning to their loved ones.

Our message is still clear - early bystander CPR is the difference between life and death for those in cardiac arrest. So please keep attempting CPR. Our call handlers will guide you through how to do this safely, meaning you too can save a life ".

Lucky2BHere Founder, Ross Cowie said:

"This amazing story of survival shows how every person in a community can and does play their part in saving a life.  Lucky2BHere provided the defibrillator and Emergency Life Support training though, on the day it was the incredible community team effort that saved Robert's life; passing him safely into the care of the Scottish Ambulance Service.  We couldn’t be happier for Robert, his family and the whole community.”

Posted on 16/10/2020