Children from St Joseph's RC Middle School in Hexham and community development officer, Alex Mason

Restart a heart campaign 2018

Restart a Heart Day is an annual campaign to raise awareness of the importance of CPR

Over a quarter (27%) of adults living in the North East of England wouldn’t perform CPR if they saw someone suffer a cardiac arrest, according to worrying new figures released to mark Restart a Heart Day.

Restart a Heart Day is an annual campaign to raise awareness of the importance of CPR, which will today see more than 200,000 people trained in life saving CPR. This year for the first time, the day will be marked globally, as training and awareness events take place for World Restart a Heart Day. 

North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is backing the campaign by visiting schools across the region and supporting teachers to train their school pupils in how to administer CPR.

The UK campaign, which is now in its 5th year, was launched after figures revealed that less than one in 10 people in Britain survive an out of hospital  cardiac arrest, due to low bystander CPR rates. In countries where CPR is taught in schools, as many as one in four survive.

Alex Mason, community development officer at NEAS, said: “There is nothing more disheartening to an ambulance crew than arriving on scene to a patient where CPR is not in progress when it could have been.

“CPR is incredibly easy to deliver but we understand people don’t always find it easy to start CPR, either because they’re not sure how or think they may hurt the person. However, the chances of survival and the quality of life thereafter are vastly increased if CPR is begun as soon as possible and literally every second counts. If you do need to deliver CPR, you will be given support by our health advisors over the phone until an ambulance crew arrives.

“Our community resuscitation team work up and down our region to support our local communities and equip them with the knowledge and skills they need to help save lives in their local area. Restart a Heart is an extension of this and we’re looking forward to visiting schools across the North East today to create our next generation of lifesavers.”

One North East school, St Joseph’s Middle School in Hexham, is training the entire school following the personal experience of one of its members of staff, inclusion support manager Eleanor Stoves.

Eleanor’s daughter Rhianna, aged 19, recently performed CPR on her older brother, Sam, after we went into respiratory arrest at their home in Hexham earlier this year.

Sam went on to make a full recovery but the incident spurred Eleanor to ensure all 300 pupils within the school were trained. The children will also be raising money for the North East Ambulance Service Charitable Fund through the event.

Eleanor said: “Rhianna is a lifeguard at Wentworth Leisure Centre in Hexham, where they receive regular training but even that couldn’t prepare her for having to do it on her brother.

“Having been through that as a family, I wanted to make sure our children were aware, it’s a vital skill and they never know when they might need to use it.”

Fiona Conley, executive head teacher at St Joseph’s and St Mary’s RC First School, said: “Giving children the opportunity to learn how to administer CPR is a wonderful thing to be able to. If children know how to do CPR, it’s a skill for life that could save lives.

“We are grateful to NEAS for coming into school to deliver the training to our pupils.”

Researchers from the University of Warwick Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Outcome (OHCAO) Registry team worked with YouGov to survey over 4,000 UK adults. Participants were asked questions about their knowledge of CPR, and whether they would feel confident in performing it on someone who had had a cardiac arrest.

Although 97% of those who responded in the region said they were likely to call an ambulance if they saw someone had collapsed and had stopped breathing, the time it takes for the emergency services to arrive can mean the difference between life and death. Brain tissue starts to die within three minutes after the heart stops, due to a lack of oxygen. Early CPR can more than double a person’s chances of survival and can buy the time needed before the ambulance resource arrives to provide advanced care.

Research recently presented at the European Resuscitation Council (ERC) Conference suggests that campaigns like Restart a Heart Day are having an impact, with the data showing rates of bystander CPR increased by over 10% between 2013 and 2017.

Despite these positive steps forward, British Heart Foundation (BHF), which commissioned the research, says today’s survey still shows a worrying gap in knowledge, which results in thousands of lives being put at risk.

Prof Gavin Perkins, Professor of Critical Care Medicine at the University of Warwick, who led the research, said: “The Warwick team has for 10 years focused its research on out of hospital cardiac arrest survival rates, and how to improve them. The rates of bystander CPR in the UK have for too long lagged behind other European nations, but with campaigns like Restart a Heart Day helping to raise awareness of the issue, we are now thankfully seeing some improvements.”

Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation, said: “You may not feel confident performing CPR if you haven’t been trained or you don’t remember your training; but without your early action the chances someone will survive a cardiac arrest are virtually zero. The BHF is striving to improve survival rates by creating a Nation of Lifesavers through our CPR training programmes. By raising awareness on Restart a Heart Day, we hope more people will see that CPR really can be the difference between life and death and that doing something is always better than doing nothing.”

Dr Andrew Lockey, Honorary Secretary at the Resuscitation Council (UK) said: “This year will see another 200,000 potential lifesavers trained across the UK - and evidence is emerging that the annual Restart a Heart initiative is leading to an increase in bystander CPR rates. The Resuscitation Council (UK) are certain we will see more lives saved from initiatives like this one, and all those who have contributed to training others can be justifiably proud of the positive impact that they are making.”

Nationally, the Restart a Heart campaign is organised jointly by the BHF, the Resuscitation Council (UK), St John Ambulance, the British Red Cross, Yorkshire Ambulance Service, Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service and ambulance trusts and fire and rescue services across the country.

St John Ambulance’s Chief Executive, Martin-Houghton Brown, said: “Survival rates for out of hospital cardiac arrests are far too low but if we equip communities with the skills and resilience to respond in an emergency situation: that can change. Hundreds of our dedicated and highly trained volunteers will be opening our doors across the country as part of Restart a Heart to share their skills and help embed lifesaving knowledge firmly within their local communities. We believe it is vital that everyone has the confidence and skills to step forward when it matters most and it really doesn’t take long to brush up your CPR skills or even to learn from scratch. Ultimately, it means you could save a life.”

Joe Mulligan, Head of First Aid Education at the British Red Cross said: “When someone is unresponsive and not breathing it’s a matter of life and death. Without immediate intervention with CPR and a defibrillator the chances are that person will not survive.

“While it’s normal to feel worried about performing CPR, it’s important to remember that doing something to help is always better than doing nothing.”

Other events are also taking place across the region both on and around the day.

As well as supporting the ambulance service to go into schools, staff from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital will be training members of the public and non-clinical NHS staff at a CPR event within the hospital on Thursday, 18 October, with similar events also planned by staff at James Cook Hospital, Sunderland Royal Hospital and South Tyneside Hospital.

Northumberland County Rugby Union are also training rugby club members this week, whilst two community first responders, Graeme Smith and David Cairns, trained 168 shoppers at Middleton Grange Shopping Centre last weekend.

Mark Rycraft, Middleton Grange Shopping Centre manager, said: “Restart a Heart’ day is such an important initiative that the centre fully supports. By working in partnership with the North East Ambulance Service we are able to make free training such as this very accessible to our shoppers.

“Learning vital skills like CPR, as well as understanding how to use a defibrillator is crucial to know in any type of emergency and is something we should all have. In providing the Hartlepool community with this knowledge we want to be able to help save more lives and we are thrilled to be a part of this very worthy campaign.”

The full list of schools and organisations taking part in the Restart a Heart campaign is as follows:

  • Alternative Education Service – The Beacon Centre, South Shields
  • Harrowgate Hill Primary School, Darlington
  • Kepier Academy, Houghton le Spring
  • Kings Priory School, Tynemouth
  • Kingsmeadow Community Comprehensive School, Gateshead
  • Linhope PRU – Mary Astell Academy, Newcastle
  • Norham High School, North Shields
  • North Gosforth Academy, Newcastle
  • Northfield School and Sports College, Billingham
  • Northumberland CofE Academy, Ashington
  • Ponteland High School, Newcastle
  • Shotley Bridge Primary School, Durham
  • Southmoor Academy, Sunderland
  • Sunderland Royal Hospital
  • Swansfield Park Primary School, Alnwick
  • The Cedars Academy, Gateshead
  • The Duchess’s Community High School, Alnwick
  • Throston Primary School, Hartlepool
  • Valley Gardens Middle School, Whitley Bay
  • St Joseph’s RC Middle School, Hexham
  • Willow Fields Community Primary School, Sunderland
  • Middleton in Teesdale Primary School, Barnard Castle
  • Cotherstone Primary School, Barnard Castle
  • South Tyneside Hospital
  • James Cook Hospital
  • Middleton Grange Shopping Centre
  • Northumberland County Rugby Union
  • Queen Elizabeth Hospital
  • Newburn Sea Cadets

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