To mark Restart a Heart Day on Friday 16th October 2020, life-saving charity Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) is urging people to learn the simple steps required to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in order to give somebody suffering a cardiac arrest their best chance of survival.
KSS is regularly called out to patients with critical heart conditions and their highly-skilled crews have seen first-hand the vital importance of family members and members of the public delivering CPR prior to the arrival of the emergency services.
A real-life case is 49-year-old Saroj. His wife, Sarah found him collapsed on their bathroom floor and immediately called 999. She was told over the phone how to give CPR, which she kept up for ten minutes until the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) arrived. Their crew took over from Sarah to perform advanced life support, helping to keep Saroj alive. Due to the severity of Saroj’s situation, KSS were called to attend, bringing a consultant and critical care paramedic to the scene, along with their LUCAS machine – a critical piece of equipment which delivers chest compressions mechanically.
Sarah explained, “Saroj didn’t respond to the CPR or the defibrillator. He’d gone into cardiac arrest, which is usually fatal. The LUCAS machine was critical in maintaining CPR whilst Saroj was moved to St George’s Hospital in London in a land ambulance, being cared for at all times by the KSS team. Just before we arrived at the hospital, Saroj’s heart started again. I have no doubt that my husband would not be here today if it weren’t for the crews from SECAmb and Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex.”
Prof Richard Lyon MBE, Associate Medical Director at KSS and a member of Resuscitation Council UK’s Executive Committee said, “Sarah delivering CPR so quickly undoubtedly helped to save her husband’s life as did SECAmb’s fast arrival on the scene. Team work is crucial in optimising the outcome for cardiac arrest patients.
“Using the LUCAS device and being able to deliver Saroj to hospital with a beating heart was critical to this successful outcome. KSS has a strong track record in giving patients with ongoing resuscitation needs an advanced level of care and the very highest chance of survival. We are delighted that Saroj has made such a good recovery.”
‘Get Hands On’
With 80% of out of hospital sudden cardiac arrests occurring in the home and with a person’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest reducing by up to 10% with every minute without CPR and defibrillation, the clear message on Restart a Heart Day is to learn CPR and have the confidence to do it.
The organisations leading this year’s Restart a Heart Day including the Resuscitation Council UK, St John Ambulance, the British Heart Foundation and all UK ambulance services are asking the public to ‘get hands on’ and act immediately by performing hands-only CPR in an emergency. They are keen to point out that there is new guidance to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission, if needing to give CPR to a member of the public and that it is vital that bystanders continue to help in an emergency. The key changes are loosely laying a face covering, such as a mask, cloth, towel or item of clothing, over the mouth and nose of the person who has collapsed and to do hands-only CPR (no mouth-to-mouth).
The CPR recommended skills can be learned on and around 16th October through the FREE digital resources available at www.resus.org.uk/rsah and by participating in digital training events across the country. You can also follow the conversation online at #RestartAHeart.
David Welch, CEO, KSS added, “Learning CPR should be essential for everyone. It can dramatically increase the chances of survival for anyone who is suffering a cardiac arrest and that is why KSS is very keen to spread the message on Restart a Heart Day and encourage people to look at the available resources. You never know when you may be in a situation needing to help someone and it is far better to be fully prepared.”
Below are the steps to take if you witness a cardiac arrest during COVID-19:
1. If you see someone has collapsed and is not breathing or not breathing normally, do not put your face next to theirs when checking for breathing. Instead, check for signs of breathing by looking to see if their chest or stomach is moving.
2. Call 999.
3. Lay a face covering, such as a mask, a cloth, towel or piece of clothing loosely over the mouth and nose of the person who has collapsed (i.e. do not seal the mouth and nose)
4. Do not do mouth to mouth rescue breaths
5. Start chest compressions by pressing hard on the chest two times per second – you can keep your time by following the beat of ‘Stayin’ Alive’ or ‘Baby Shark’.
6. Use a public access defibrillator if one is available
Dr Andrew Lockey, Consultant in Emergency Medicine and co-lead for World Restart a Heart Day, Resuscitation Council UK concluded: “Worries about COVID-19 should not deter anyone from doing the right thing in an emergency. The principle message for Restart a Heart is that you can still save a life, whilst keeping yourself safe. Don’t be afraid to get hands on and save a life!”