Can bystanders cope with cardiac arrest?

European Resuscitation Council campaign promotes awareness of CPR.

When dealing with adult cardiac arrest there are robust guidelines to ensure that best practice is delivered.

Training in cardiopulmonary resuscitation will be taken into schools. Picture: iStock

There has long been evidence that adults in cardiac arrest must be given immediate high‑quality chest compressions and early access to defibrillators.

However, while healthcare workers have access to regular training it can be difficult for members of the public to access such resources.

The European Resuscitation Council (ERC) states that sudden out‑of‑hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) with unsuccessful cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the third leading cause of death in industrialised nations.

Survival rates

In addition, after OHCA, the overall survival rates are 2%-10%, with up to 70% of OHCA being witnessed by family members, friends and other bystanders.

It is therefore crucial that the public have access to training, so the potentially lethal gap in time from cardiac arrest to when emergency personnel reach the patient can be bridged by lay people.

Last year, the ERC promoted Hands Save Lives, whereby anyone with the ability to teach CPR could put on sessions open to the public.

Road show

My trust, the Queen Elizabeth, ran an all-day interactive road show in the main atrium of our hospital. Public interest and uptake was phenomenal and encouraging; people clearly wanted to be able to help save lives.

This year on the 16 October the ERC is promoting a new campaign Kids Save Lives. This will raise awareness of the importance of bystander training, and will encourage children as well as adults to become involved by taking training into schools.

Further information

About the author

Hannah_BryantHannah Bryant is resuscitation officer at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham Major Trauma Centre

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