Health Minister announces £250k investment in community resuscitation

Date published: 28 March 2016

The Health Minister has announced an investment of £250k per year to promote community resuscitation across Northern Ireland.

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The new money from the Transformation Fund will be used to set up a regional team of Community Resuscitation Development Officers. 

Commenting on the new investment the Minister said “CPR and early defibrillation are the two critical interventions to enable a person to survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Carrying out early CPR can double a casualty’s chances of survival.

“My department’s Community Resuscitation Strategy, the first in the UK, is designed to promote collaboration between Health and Social Care and the voluntary and private sectors to improve survival rates.”

Each year in Northern Ireland about 1,400 people suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and only 10% of them survive. The key is swift action by bystanders: recognising that a cardiac arrest is happening; performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation - CPR; using a defibrillator and keeping the person alive until an ambulance gets there.

The Minister continued saying; “We need to raise awareness, increase the number of people with CPR training and encourage members of the public to intervene in the event of a cardiac arrest.

“I would encourage everyone to take the time to learn CPR. It’s surprising how straightforward it is, and you never know when someone will need you to have those skills.”

Survival rates are highest in places like Seattle where more people are trained to intervene. In 2014 the Health Minister launched the Community Resuscitation Strategy. The Community Resuscitation Development Officers will play a key role in increasing the number of people who are trained to intervene and who will be prepared to step in.

CPR: Top Tips

  • if you see someone who you think has had a cardiac arrest call 999 immediately
  • shout for help and send someone for a defibrillator (AED), if there is one available
  • don’t panic - you can help. If you’re on the phone with the 999 operator, they will also be able to guide you.
  • immediately begin CPR if the person is unresponsive and not breathing normally.
  • if you haven’t been trained in CPR, you should perform hands-only compressions: rest one hand on top of the other and interlock your fingers, ‘Push hard and fast’ on the centre of the victim’s chest with the heel of your hand
  • compress the chest at least 2 inches/5 cm (adults) or 1/3 depth of chest (children and infants)
  • provide 100 compressions per minute counting out loud to maintain a rhythm – like this; one and two and three and four
  • keep the rhythm going until the ambulance arrives. If someone else is there and is able to, they can take over if you get tired

The biggest tip: get trained! Skills deteriorate. Refresh your CPR training at least once every two years.

CPR training courses may vary depending on their overall duration but in general a course will cover;

  • how to recognise that someone may be having a cardiac arrest
  • calling for help & asking if a defibrillator machine is available
  • the basics of CPR training
  • practical session, rehearsing learned techniques on a training mannequin
  • questions and answers

CPR is an important link in the chain of survival which has 4 stages:

  • early recognition and call for help
  • early CPR
  • early Defibrillation
  • post resuscitation care

Notes to editors: 

1. The Strategy is available to view online

2. The late Professor Frank Pantridge from Northern Ireland not only invented the portable defibrillator but made an important contribution to the development of CPR. 

3. For every 1 minute that passes in cardiac arrest before defibrillation, chances of survival are reduced by about 10%.

4. Around 30,000 people each year in the UK have cardiac arrests outside of the hospital environment, of which less than 10% will survive to be discharged from hospital.

5. Each year around 3,500 people are admitted to hospital in Northern Ireland with a heart attack.

6. Heart disease is the second main cause of death for people in Northern Ireland.

7. Media enquiries about this press release to DHSSPS Press Office on 028 9052 0571, or out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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