Saving Lives Together

South Western Ambulance Service Cardiac Arrest Campaign - ‘Saving Lives Together’

Saving Lives Together logo

Each year in the South West we provide a resuscitation attempt to over 3,000 patients following an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA). In the crucial few moments after someone has collapsed every second counts, that’s why we need your help to Save Lives Together.  

Over 75% of patients experiencing a cardiac arrest collapse at home. This means that you are more likely to need to help a friend or relative than a complete stranger. Taking a few moments to think what you would do in the event of a cardiac arrest could save the life of someone close to you.

Planning Ahead

Would you know what do if the unexpected happened to a friend or family member at your home?

Do you know where the nearest defibrillator is in case of a cardiac arrest?

Doing something is better than doing nothing, and you could help save a life.

Together we can save lives by:

  1. Recognising Cardiac Arrest
  2. Calling 999 For Help
  3. Starting CPR
  4. Using a Public Access Defibrillator


Recognising Cardiac Arrest

Person clutching chest to illustrate a cardiac arrest

A cardiac arrest can happen without warning. If someone is in cardiac arrest they may have collapsed suddenly and:

  • Will be unconscious
  • Will not be breathing normally (either making gasping noises or not breathing at all).

Without immediate lifesaving treatment, a person will die. If you believe a person is experiencing cardiac arrest phone 999 (using speaker phone if possible) and immediately start CPR.

Did You Know? A cardiac arrest is a medical emergency where the heart stops beating effectively. When this happens, blood stops pumping around the body causing the person to fall unconscious and stop breathing normally. Many cardiac arrests occur because of a heart attack, however, a heart attack is not the same as a cardiac arrest. A heart attack is when one of the coronary arteries becomes blocked and the heart’s blood supply is stopped, which could lead to a cardiac arrest.

Calling 999 for Help

Person working in the emergency operations centre

Plan Ahead – Keep a note of your address, postcode or What3Words location near a phone to save seconds in an emergency.

In a medical emergency call an ambulance by dialling 999 or 112.

Try to have the following information available when you call us:

  1. The location where you are, including the area or postcode.
  2. The phone number you are calling from.
  3. Exactly what has happened.

As soon as we know where you are we will start arranging help for you.

It is a good idea to download What3Words. This free app converts your location into a unique three word address which we can use to help find you if you in an emergency.

If you are deaf, hard of hearing or speech-impaired you can contact us by texting from your mobile. This facility is available in any type of emergency and is for people who can’t use the standard 999 voice or the RNID’s text relay services. To use the text service you must register your mobile phone on the emergencySMS website.

Starting CPR

Giving CPR

Plan Ahead – Learning CPR takes just a few minutes and could help the save the life of a friend or loved one.

If you see someone collapsed and not breathing normally, you need to start CPR to keep the patient alive until help arrives. Our Emergency Medical Dispatchers will help you with this when you call 999.

It takes a few minutes to learn CPR to help save a life, follow the links below to access content from the British Heart Foundation and the Resuscitation Council (UK) to learn more in just 15 minutes.

Using a Public Access Defibrillator


Plan Ahead – Discover where the nearest defibrillator is to your home. This could help save crucial time if you need one in an emergency.

A defibrillator gives a jolt of energy to the heart, which can help restore the heart’s rhythm, and get it beating normally again. This simple piece of equipment is easy to use and doesn’t require training, but it could make the difference between life and death.

Public access defibrillators can be used by anyone. When you switch the device on, it will provide clear instructions telling you what you need to do. A defibrillator will not harm the person suffering a cardiac arrest and will only give them a shock if it is needed. There's no reason to feel nervous about using a defibrillator - just follow its simple instructions and you may be able to save a life.

It’s really important that everyone can access a defibrillator in an emergency. Find your nearest device before you need it by looking at the British Heart Foundation’s Defibfinder.

Register your Device

The Circuit - image advising you to put your defibrillator on the map

The Circuit is the national defibrillator network which aims to locate the estimated 100,000 defibrillators in the UK. We use this information to help direct 999 callers to the nearest device in the event of an emergency to help increase a patient’s chance of survival. If you know the location of a defibrillator which is not currently listed, you can register the device with The Circuit today.

Our Air Ambulance Partnership

This summer Saving Lives Together is being supported by the region’s air ambulance charities. In 2021, around one in every three call outs for an air ambulance team in the South West was to someone experiencing a cardiac arrest.

Did You Know?

Air ambulance Critical Care Teams can travel at speed to patients suffering an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. They perform interventions on scene that would usually only be done in an Emergency Department - bringing the care forward to where it’s needed the most, whether that’s on the roadside, at places of work or inside homes. They offer advanced life support and can continue the care while transferring the patient to the best hospital for their needs.

Cornwall Air Ambulance Devon Air Ambulance Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance   Great Western Air Ambulance Wiltshire Air Ambulance


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Our charity, the South Western Ambulance Charity (SWAC), uses gifted monies to benefit those in our communities who use our service and to improve the welfare of SWASFT staff and volunteers. To donate to the charity, please click here.