Ensuring more people can use defibrillators and CPR to save lives

Performing CPR in schools

With increased awareness over the weekend on how CPR and defibrillators can save lives, the Scottish Ambulance Service is working with Save a Life for Scotland (SALFS) to ensure more people know what to do when they witness someone suffering a cardiac arrest.

There are crucial elements required to save a life when someone is in cardiac arrest, and which we refer to as the ‘Chain of Survival’. The first of these steps is to ensure that people can identify when a cardiac arrest is happening, and there is a defibrillator in the community. This is followed by early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation to restart the heart; timely hospital care, and appropriate aftercare. 

Pauline Howie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, says:  

“Working with the Save a Life for Scotland (SALFS) campaign and other partners, we want to increase the survivability rates of those who go into cardiac arrest in Scotland. Cardiac arrest can affect anyone, of any age at any time or place. It’s vital that we can encourage people to feel more comfortable in calling 999 and to deliver bystander CPR and defibrillation if witnessing an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. 

“Over the last five years, the Save a Life for Scotland (SALFS) partnership has equipped over 640,000 people with CPR skills, and the survival rate after an out of hospital cardiac arrest has doubled to one in ten people. This is really significant progress, but there are even higher rates of survival achievable that we are working towards with the refreshed Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Strategy. The Scottish Ambulance Service will also be working with schools so that we can equip all school children with the skills to be able to perform CPR.” 

Dr Gareth Clegg, University of Edinburgh, Chair of the Delivery Group for Scotland’s Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Strategy says:

“After a cardiac arrest every second counts. Calling 999 for help, starting chest compression CPR and using a defibrillator as soon as possible is the way to save lives.

Scotland’s national plan to increase survival after cardiac arrest aims to double the number of cases where a defib is applied by the public - even before an ambulance arrives at the scene. Studies show that using a defibrillator within three minutes of collapse, along with starting CPR, can greatly increase chances of survival.”

Lisa MacInnes, Director of Save a life for Scotland, says:

“Every year around 3,500 people in Scotland of all ages suffer a cardiac arrest at home or within the community. Save a Life for Scotland is a campaign which aims to increase the chance of survival by encouraging more people to learn about CPR and defibrillators. The simple message of the campaign is that everybody in Scotland has got the power to save lives in their own hands.”

Information on defibrillators: 

There are around 4000 public-access defibrillators registered in Scotland and we have a system where people can add their own defibrillators to our database. You can find their locations here: Registering your Automated External Defibrillator (scottishambulance.com)

Defibrillators are designed to be used by members of the public who have not received any training. They provide audible instructions and sometimes visual prompts on a screen, and because they will not allow a shock to be given unless it is needed, it is extremely unlikely that it will do any harm to the person who has collapsed.

Information on identifying cardiac arrests:

To help people identify when someone is suffering a cardiac arrest, it’s important to recognise the difference between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack. A cardiac arrest occurs when someone’s heart stops beating. Because there is no blood flow to the brain, they will suddenly lose consciousness and will stop breathing or stop breathing normally.  A heart attack is where there is a sudden interruption to the blood supply to part of the heart muscle. It is likely to cause chest pain and without treatment will result in permanent damage to the heart. The heart is still sending blood around the body and the person remains conscious and is still breathing. Both are medical emergencies, and you should call 999, but a cardiac arrest is much more serious.

To Find out more about CPR and defibrillators, visit the Scottish Ambulance Service website - Cardiac Arrest (scottishambulance.com) 

Visit savealife.scot to learn more about what organisations are doing across Scotland to save more lives. 



Posted on 18/06/2021