The most common cause of a cardiac arrest is a life threatening abnormal heart rhythm called ventricular fibrillation (VF). VF happens when the electrical activity of your heart becomes so chaotic that the heart stops pumping and quivers or ‘fibrillates’ instead.
Of the over 146,000 OHCAs a year in the UK, about 75,000 are long dead before their bodies are found, and over half of the remainder, say about 40,000, then die before the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) arrive. When the British Heart Foundation stated that more than 30,000 cardiac arrests happened out of hospital each year, they ignored the pre-deceased in their figures. With recent increases in population in the UK the figure is now nearer 33,000, and currently only 8.6% of these survive.
The Scandinavian countries teach CPR in their schools. Because of this there is an almost 75% bystander participation rate when somebody collapses, and as a result of this prompt intervention they achieve a 25% survival rate,
The difference in our two survival rates following a cardiac arrest is almost certainly due to the immediate actions of family members and bystanders before an ambulance arrives.
Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) can help to ‘buy time’ by keeping all of the important organs, including the heart and the brain, supplied with oxygen until the casualty is defibrillated.
A defibrillator can then help to restart the heart’s normal rhythm.
A heart attack is a serious medical emergency in which the supply of blood to the heart muscle tissue is suddenly blocked, usually by a blood clot. Lack of blood to the heart can cause serious and permanent damage to the heart muscle.
Symptoms of a heart attack
The symptoms of a heart attack will vary from one person to another. The most common symptoms are:
- Chest pain: tightness, heaviness, pain or a burning feeling in your chest
- The pain can often be mistaken for indigestion.
- Pain in arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach: for some people, the pain or tightness is severe, while other people just feel uncomfortable
- Cold clammy sweating
- Feeling weak and/or light-headed
- Shortness of breath
- Feeling nauseous or vomiting
It is important to stress that not everyone experiences severe chest pain and some casualties will not experience any pain at all. Similarly, it would be very unusual for any one casualty to describe all of the above symptoms.
Signs of a heart attack
- Pale complexion
- Blueness around lips (Cyanosis)
- Quite often rubbing upper left arm (but not always)
- The heart may stop, causing casualty to collapse
It is recognising the combination of signs and symptoms that is important in determining whether a person is having a heart attack, and not just the severity of chest pain. Heart attacks can be very difficult to diagnose, especially if you are not a trained clinician.
IF IN DOUBT – SHOUT!! The golden rule is, if you suspect that someone is having a heart attack dial 999 immediately.
Do not worry if you are having doubts or are uncertain. Paramedics would rather be called out to find that a mistake has been made rather than being too late to save a person’s life.
First Aid Treatment of a suspected Heart Attack
Dial 999 immediately you think someone is having a heart attack. Do not delay making this 999 call.
- Sit the casualty down in a comfortable position, with their knees raised.
- Do not allow them to walk around as this will put a strain on the heart.
- Try to reassure and relax them.
- Ask if they have existing medication (GTN Spray or tablets). If they have help them take it.
- If an aspirin (300mg) is easily available, first check that the casualty is not allergic to aspirin, then ask them to slowly chew it to paste but DO NOT SWALLOW IT. Tell them to place the paste under their tongue (sub-lingual). The aspirin will help thin the casualty’s blood and restore the blood supply to the heart muscle. N.B. DO NOT give aspirin to children.
- Repeat the aspirin after five minutes if the symptoms haven’t improved.
- Use the Crowdsav app to find out where the nearest AED is, and send someone to get it so it is ready in case the casualty collapses. (Droitwich AEDs are listed in this website)
- If the casualty becomes unconscious be prepared to carry out CPR and to use the defibrillator.
Basic Life Support (BLS) skills (See lesson plan – Green shaded area)
Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) involves rhythmically pushing up and down on someone’s chest if their heart has stopped beating to maintain a supply of oxygen to the brain and other vital organs. (Compress about one third of the chest depth at a rate of 100 – 120 compressions a minute)
This is usually then complimented by rescue breaths. It is a simple skill that anyone can be taught often in under an hour.
For adults you do thirty chest compressions to two rescue breaths, keep going on this 30:2 ratio until help arrives.
For children and infants you first do five rescue breaths, follow this with fifteen chest compressions then two rescue breaths. Keep going on this 15:2 ratio until help arrives.
Once a heart has stopped beating, irreversible damage will occur to brain cells and other organs if someone does not start CPR within 3 minutes. If the brain is starved of oxygen it means that any attempt to start the heart with a defibrillator is likely to be unsuccessful. Performing CPR keeps the blood flowing to the brain and increases the chances of the heart remaining in a shockable rhythm until a defibrillator is used.
We aim to increase the number of people being taught Basic Life Support skills by:
- Providing free 2-hour BLS classes at Droitwich Medical Centre.
- Providing 1-hour resuscitation demonstrations at clubs and charities.
- Providing free training to school children.
- Raising the awareness of the need to learn basic resuscitation skills through the local media and other publications.
If you would like to know more about Basic Life Support training or First Aid Training please contact us or book a course
Teaching people how to use an Automated External Defibrillator
If a casualty is to be successfully defibrillated, it needs to happen as soon as possible after their heart has stopped beating. For every minute that passes between when a casualty’s heart has stopped beating and they receive an electric shock from a defibrillator, their chance of survival will reduce by about 10%. The sooner they receive an electric shock from a defibrillator, the greater the casualty’s chance of survival.
Community Public Access Defibrillators (CPADs) are now highly automated and people without any prior medical experience can use one. But if they are previously trained before they need to use one in an emergency they can deploy the CPAD and initiate the first shock about 15-20 seconds faster than waiting for the necessarily slow voice prompts. These seconds save lives.
Increasing the number of Community Public Access Defibrillators in Droitwich
To help increase the chances of early defibrillation and casualty survival, CPADs need to be located throughout Droitwich for anyone to use.
Having defibrillators located throughout Droitwich will increase the chances of casualties being successfully defibrillated. We aim initially to locate CPADs about half a mile apart so that, in an emergency, nobody will be more than a quarter of a mile away from one.
Fundraising to provide training and defibrillators
We believe that it is important that BLS training is provided free of charge to groups, and that funds are available to purchase CPADs. Although Droitwich AED is run by volunteers there are obviously costs associated with general administration, and of course purchasing equipment and consumables. Donations are needed to cover these costs
We are currently putting aside £5 per month per CPAD we have put out to facilitate the future replacement of pads, batteries, and eventually the AEDs themselves.
We would like to have a group of volunteers to support the project with fundraising, so other volunteers can focus on delivering training and getting CPADs out in our community.
Please contact us if you would like to help.
To raise funds for CPADs we are:
- Accepting Public Donations
- Applying for any grants or funding streams which may be available
- Asking individuals for donations of at least £25 per day to attend EFW and FAW First Aid Courses
- Asking companies for donations of at least £200 per day for our instructors to run these courses on their premises.
- Developing a fundraising group who will hold fundraising events for us.
- Maintaining a high local profile and encouraging local individuals and organisations to fundraise for us