Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest survival rates at their highest level

Bob Beveridge with his wife Elaine and son Stewart

Survival rates for cardiac arrest patients who have been treated with a public access defibrillator has improved to one in ten people, a new report from the Scottish Ambulance Service (SAS) has revealed.

The Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Report (2019 to 2022) reveals that there around 3,140 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests (OHCA) every year. During the restrictions as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, one in 14 people with OHCA survived to leave hospital. This has improved to one in 10, and SAS is working with partners as part of the Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Strategy (2021-26) to achieve even higher results. Before the strategy was first introduced in 2015, survival rates were one in 20.

This improvement can be attributed to an increase in bystanders performing CPR and using public access defibrillators. These are the key interventions that can make a difference between life and death. The chance of survival after OHCA in cases where CPR has not been performed is extremely low.

The report outlines the latest figures by the Scottish Ambulance Service and its partners, including Save a Life for Scotland and the University of Edinburgh, in support of Scotland’s Out-of-Hospital Cardiac Arrest Strategy, which was refreshed in 2021.

The report also reveals that:

  • Bystander CPR rate was 66.1%, the highest recorded since 2011-12 and having continued to rise during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • The number of Public Access Defibrillators (PAD) in communities across Scotland that are registered on the national defibrillator network (The Circuit) has more than doubled since 2019 and is now at almost 5,000.

Pauline Howie, Chief Executive of the Scottish Ambulance Service, says: “These figures are really encouraging, and as we emerge from the pandemic, we want to see even higher survival rates.

“Working with the Save a Life for Scotland campaign and other partners, we aim to teach people from all walks of life that they can be a life-saver. Every second counts when someone has had a cardiac arrest and by equipping bystanders with the tools to help, through dialling 999, starting CPR and using a defibrillator, those suffering a cardiac arrest have a greater chance of survival.”

Lisa MacInnes director of the Save a Life for Scotland campaign says: “Our aim is to equip everyone living in Scotland with CPR and skills and help them be CPR ready, because when someone has a cardiac arrest, every second counts. When the minutes are so important you could be the difference in helping a stranger in need who’s just around the corner or a neighbour who needs your help. Visit savealife.scot to find out more.”

Son saves his father’s life thanks to CPR

In September, Bob Beveridge, from Stenhousemuir, and his wife Elaine McGinlay, were visiting his son Stewart, when Robert suffered a cardiac arrest. Stewart, who is a nurse at NHS Forth Valley, immediately began CPR whilst Elaine phoned 999 and spoke to call hander Hayley Meldrum, until the crew, Richard Francis, Christopher Gee and Iain Skinner, from Callander, arrived.

Elaine remembers: “The operator kept me calm whilst shouting out the timings for the chest compressions and although we lost him for a time, within six minutes, two paramedics arrived with a defibrillator. Shortly after the arrival of a second ambulance crew the defibrillator restarted his heart on the sixth attempt.

“Within an hour we were with him in Resus at Forth Valley Royal Hospital, where he was awake and able to converse with us. He was admitted to ICU where two days later he suffered another four cardiac arrests. Within an hour he was taken into surgery where the most amazing surgeon implanted a CRT-D into his chest.”

Bob’s son, Stewart Beveridge says, “Working as a nurse, I have been lucky enough to receive mandatory CPR training. Throughout my fifteen years of practice I have been fortunate to have not been in a situation where I’ve needed to carry out CPR on any patient. I never expected my Dad would be my first experience in doing so.

“It’s hard to explain the adrenaline that kicks in and the feeling of fight or flight. Due to this I would like to send a huge heartfelt thank you to the call handler who kept me calm and focused during this time. She was instrumental in aiding me to perform CPR on my Dad and without her I don’t think I would have been as level headed and kept as calm as I did. It’s certainly true it takes a team to save a life.

“I would like to thank the crew from the Scottish Ambulance Service who attended to my Dad their professionalism and care provided were exceptional. Thank you for being so kind and compassionate toward my family during a very difficult and stressful event.

It has certainly been a rollercoaster over the last few weeks however my Dad is now in process of recovery. I would urge everyone to seek CPR training or have some knowledge within this. It truly works and you could save a life!”

Five days after his cardiac arrests, Bob was out of the ICU and is recovering well.

Bob says: “I cannot remember anything about my sudden cardiac arrest but undoubtedly the most important factor in saving my life was taking ill in the presence of my son Stewart who started CPR as soon as I collapsed whilst my wife Elaine phoned 999. I am eternally grateful to everyone involved in my care, I’m making steady progress and hope eventually to be back to my old self.”

As Elaine says: “From the initial 999 call right through to the care he is still receiving today he has been looked after by the most professional, compassionate, caring and calm NHS staff I have ever had the privilege to meet. Every one of them played a part in saving my husband’s life in a true team effort and for that we are truly grateful. It is also a great advert for learning how to do CPR, it works!”

Posted on 16/11/2022