Health Minister Supports ‘Restart a Heart’ Day

Date published: 18 October 2016


Health Minister Michelle O’Neill today met pupils from St Louise’s Comprehensive College, Belfast, who are taking part in ‘Restart a Heart’ Day

Restart a Heart Day is an initiative by the European Resuscitation Council aimed at introducing young people to the skills required to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) in the event of an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.

The Ambulance Service is leading the initiative in collaboration with the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and other partners including HSC Trusts, relevant charities and Voluntary Ambulance Services.

Minister O’Neill said: “Each year in the north of Ireland approximately 1,400 cardiac arrests occur outside a hospital environment and sadly fewer than 10% of these people survive to be discharged from hospital.

“There are two interventions that are literally vital when someone suffers a cardiac arrest: the immediate need is cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), followed by early defibrillation.  These critical interventions can keep someone alive until professional help arrives.”

The Minister concluded: “I very much welcome the efforts being made by the Ambulance Service to increase the numbers of trained individuals who can respond to a cardiac arrest.   Survival is known to be higher in those incidents where a bystander has initiated CPR.

“I would strongly encourage everyone to take the time to learn CPR. You would be surprised how uncomplicated it is and you never know the moment when you may need it.

“People should not fear getting involved in resuscitation as, without it, the patient, perhaps a family member, may die.”

Events are being held throughout the day in Belfast, Lisburn, Magherafelt, Newtownabbey, Newry, Bangor and Ballymena.

Highlighting the importance of early CPR in the ‘Chain of Survival’, Doctor David McManus, Interim Chief Executive of the Ambulance Service said: “Once cardiac arrest has been identified 999 should be called immediately. Trained Ambulance Service staff will provide advice and CPR instruction while paramedic help is on its way.

“The single most important early intervention is CPR. Hands (compression) only CPR has proven to be effective in increasing the survival rate of the patient.

“CPR helps maintain blood and oxygen flow through the body until such times as a defibrillator or paramedic help is brought to the patient.

“This initiative is aimed at providing young people with the skills and confidence to perform CPR in their communities. This will save lives and anyone can do it.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. For every one minute that passes in cardiac arrest before defibrillation, chances of survival are reduced by about 10%.
  4. Each year around 3,500 people are admitted to hospital in NI with a heart attack.
  5. Heart disease is the second main cause of death for people in NI.
  6. The Department’s Community Resuscitation Strategy was launched in July 2014 with the aim of improving the survival rate for those who suffer an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.  The Ambulance Service has established a Regional Implementation Group to take forward the actions set out in the Strategy and a number of sub-groups have been created to progress the strategy’s objectives. 
  7. Media enquiries about this press release to DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0505, or out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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