Restart a Heart

Over 3,600 people are resuscitated by ambulance staff every year in the South West because they suffer a pre-hospital cardiac arrest. For every minute that passes once in cardiac arrest, a person loses a further 10% chance of survival, and with this dramatic loss in chance of survival, there is a need of a defibrillator every 4-5 minutes walk. Without doubt this availability would improve cardiac arrest survival rates throughout the South West.

A defibrillator is a device used to give an electric shock to help restart a patients heart when they are in cardiac arrest. If there were more public access defibrillators, more people could get a life saving shock as quickly as possible, ahead of an ambulance, which would assist in giving them the best possible chance of survival.

When someone suffers a cardiac arrest, the heart stops and blood is no longer being pumped around their body. The longer they go without emergency life-support, the harder it is to restart their heart. This is where you and your community, organisation or business could make a difference.

Automatic or semi-automatic defibrillators are easy and safe to use by anyone with little or no training. The device talks and displays what you need to do, with many devices also showing pictures. The best possible chance for someone's survival is for them to receive effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation and early defibrillation. People trained in CPR and defibrillation are able to act quicker as they already know what to do and are not waiting for the device to prompt.

Defibrillators should be a common sight everywhere and particularly in high footfall places such as shopping centres, railway stations and leisure centres, or in rural areas such as village centres or pubs.

Best practice would be to allow the device to be available to anyone at any time, like on many railway platforms. These places also train station staff who can offer assistance once they arrive. The risk of restricting defibrillators to trained persons only can only be a positive set up if these trained people are always available.

In rural villages many already have a Community First Responder or Co-Responder group who will be dispatched if appropriate at the time of the 999 call. Many of these initiative are not 24 hours or may simply not be available at your point of need and therefore a defibrillator in a 24/7 location offers access to everyone.

Storage of defibrillators should not add barriers to access. Locks and coded storage are not supported by the South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust as these can delay access. The rescuer will already be in a heightened distressed condition and may forget a code; may not correctly type in a code; or may not be able to find a key to gain access. An unlocked external; an internal defibrillator box; or an indoor bracket are all suitable storage systems.

The South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust's Defibrillator Accreditation Scheme offers you formal guidance and support in buying, storing and using a defibrillator. Please download our booklet here to see if you meet the standard to be registered on the South Western Ambulance Service 999 control system.

The importance of registering your defibrillator on the 999 control system is to ensure that the person dialling can be reminded or directed to a nearby device which may aid to save someone's life. This may be someone who is found unwell in your car park or someone making a call from their mobile phone in the toilets. The additional benefit of businesses being accredited is that we can call you to inform you something is happening and that we are sending an ambulance.

The ambulance service requires assurance that the device is ready and available for use to remain on the 999 control system, all we ask for is a monthly acknowledgement that your device remains in place and ready for use.

Use our online contact form or contact your local Assistant Community Responder Officer to get signed up. They will arrange a visit to collect all details required and sign you up to our memorandum of understanding.

If you are already signed up to our Defibrillator Accreditation Scheme please complete your monthly return by following this link.

Don't delay, purchase a defibrillator and register today as every second counts to Restart a Heart.

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