Prof Andy Lockey MBE
President, Resuscitation Council UK
A cardiac arrest is the ultimate medical emergency. Early cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and defibrillation within three to five minutes of collapse can significantly increase a person’s chances of survival.
This year, for our Restart A Heart campaign, we’re highlighting the importance of defibrillators. This piece of equipment is easy to use and doesn’t require training, but it could make the difference between life and death, so it’s important to find and use a defibrillator in an emergency.
Normalising defibrillator use
A survey of over 4,000 people revealed that 61% were not confident enough to use a defibrillator. We want to change this and let everyone know that early CPR along with defibrillation within three to five minutes of collapse can significantly increase the chances of survival.
Don’t be scared, it’s simple
Publicly available defibrillators are designed to be used by the public — that’s why they are also called ‘public access defibrillators.’ When you switch the defibrillator on, it will provide clear instructions and talk you through what you need to do.
Expanding community access
The Government has recently announced a £1 million pot for community organisations to bid for funding for a defibrillator in their area. The funding will provide an estimated 1,000 new defibrillators in community spaces across England, which is great news.
Defibrillators must be placed in areas of highest need, where there is a high incidence of cardiac arrest and low defibrillator provision.
Distributing defibrillators to the right areas
Now, we need to ensure that community groups place their defibrillator in a location where they can benefit as many people as possible. Defibrillators must be placed in areas of highest need, where there is a high incidence of cardiac arrest and low defibrillator provision.
Research tells us that these are more likely to be in the most deprived communities, so these areas must be prioritised. Currently, defibrillators are disproportionately placed in more affluent areas. At Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK), our ambition is to address this imbalance so everyone, everywhere has their best chance of surviving cardiac arrest.
Locate nearest defibrillator and learn CPR
It’s also vital that Guardians of defibrillators register their device on ‘The Circuit.’ This is a network that ensures ambulance services can immediately direct people to their nearest defibrillator, saving valuable time. Last year, we launched our ‘CPQR code.’ You can scan it and learn CPR in two minutes. More than 14,000 people have scanned the code. This year, let’s ensure we combine CPR with defibrillation wherever possible, so we can increase survival rates of cardiac arrest.