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Around a third of adults in the South East haven’t learned CPR

15th Oct 2021

We are marking Restart a Heart Day (16th October) by urging the UK public to get hands on and learn CPR, in light of worrying research that shows that around a third (32%) of UK adults in the South East have never undertaken any form of training to learn essential CPR skills.* These are the skills that saved footballer Christian Eriksen’s life in June, and could save the life of anyone in cardiac arrest – which could happen anywhere, to anyone, at any time.

The survey, carried out by YouGov on behalf of Resuscitation Council UK, showed that 78% of adults in the South East were aware that Christian Eriksen experienced a cardiac arrest at the Euros this year. However, with CPR training rates remaining stubbornly low, the organisations behind Restart a Heart are asking everyone to feel inspired by the actions that saved Eriksen’s life and learn how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

The annual event, which is in its eighth year, aims to train people in how to perform CPR, so they feel confident to act in an emergency. The campaign is led by Resuscitation Council UK, in partnership with St John Ambulance, the British Heart Foundation, British Red Cross and all UK ambulance services.

For every minute that a person in cardiac arrest doesn’t receive CPR and defibrillation, their chance of survival drops by up to 10% - so acting in an emergency is crucial. With most cardiac arrests happening at home, knowing CPR and being confident to act could save a loved one’s life.

Professor Richard Lyon MBE, Associate Medical Director at KSS and Professor of Pre-Hospital Emergency Care at the University of Surrey said: “KSS provides life-saving critical care to victims of cardiac arrest. Whilst we respond in a helicopter and can deliver essential care like putting a patient into a medical coma and flying them directly to specialist cardiac centres, we cannot reach victims of cardiac arrest in the first few minutes. This is why having someone perform immediate CPR is so important as it helps keep the patient’s brain and heart alive until expert medical help arrives. We can deliver hospital-level care at the roadside, but we really need the public to assist until then.”

A recent example of a patient we helped with a critical heart condition is Graham Martin from Sittingbourne who was 65 when he suffered a cardiac arrest during one of his regular trips to the gym. Gym staff noticed on CCTV that Graham had collapsed. They called 999, commenced CPR and used a defibrillator to shock his heart back into a normal rhythm.

Graham Martin said: “I don’t remember any of it, but I understand it was seven minutes from the alarm being pressed until the emergency services arrived, so they had to keep going for that long.

“When the KSS doctor and paramedic arrived I was in a critical condition. The lack of oxygen to my brain meant I was having fits and there was a risk of brain damage and going back into cardiac arrest.

“They stabilised me and gave me a general anaesthetic which was essential as it reduced the workload on my heart, stopped me from fitting and meant I could be taken to the William Harvey Hospital by air. Otherwise I would have had to survive a 45-minute road journey.

“Once there it was all systems go with an angiogram, head scan and so on. Fortunately, I was totally out of it.”

After 18 days in hospital, several of them in a coma, Graham was fitted with a device to regulate his heart rhythms (an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator or ICD) before he returned home.

Graham continueds: “Without what was done at the gym, I would not have survived, it was crucial. If they didn’t have a defibrillator, and if the guys had not known how to give CPR, I would not be here today. I understand that just one in ten people in the UK survives a cardiac arrest outside a hospital, so things were against me.

“CPR is a great thing to learn. During my rehabilitation I went on a half day CPR course, and I would urge everyone to learn how to do it.”

Allan McHenry, one of our Critical Care Paramedics that day who is also now Assistant Director of Service Delivery (Clinical) at KSS said: “Graham’s case shows quite clearly that every step in the chain of survival, from recognition that Graham was in trouble and needed help, the start of basic life support, and ultimately the enhanced care provided by the pre hospital team, means Graham is able to share his incredible story today.

“There are many ways to learn to do CPR. Charities such as British Heart Foundation and St John Ambulance all provide training. It doesn’t take as long as you might think, and it could be the difference between life and death for someone.”

Learning CPR

People can learn CPR by attending local training events and by using online resources, which they can find at resus.org.uk/rsah. There are resources available in a range of languages, including Punjabi, Hindi, Arabic, Gujarati, Welsh, Polish, Chinese and Kurdish as well as in Makaton. Resources are also available for teachers to use with their students in lessons. People can also support the campaign and learn more about it on social media using the hashtag #RestartAHeart. To learn more about Restart a Heart, visit https://bit.ly/RSAHD21

Professor Andrew Lockey, consultant in emergency medicine and co-lead for World Restart a Heart, Resuscitation Council UK said:

“Learning CPR has never been more important. When Christian Eriksen survived a sudden cardiac arrest at the Euros, he did so because those around him had the essential CPR skills that could save his life, and the confidence to act quickly when they realised what had happened to him. These are simple skills that everyone can do if they take the time to learn them.

“Learn or refresh your skills today by attending a training event, watching our short animation on how to do CPR in the pandemic, or playing our digital training game, Lifesaver.”

*38% of UK adults nationwide have never undertaken any form of training to learn essential CPR skills. The survey also revealed that 82% of UK adults were aware that Christian Eriksen experienced a cardiac arrest at the Euros this year.

CPR by staff at his gym saved Graham's life
CPR by staff at his gym saved Graham's life
Professor Richard Lyon MBE, our Associate Medical Director and Professor of Pre-Hospital Emergency Care at the University of Surrey
Professor Richard Lyon MBE, our Associate Medical Director and Professor of Pre-Hospital Emergency Care at the University of Surrey

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