Over a third of North East adults still haven’t learned life-saving CPR according to new survey

The North East public is being urged to get hands on and learn life-saving CPR as a new survey finds over a third of the region’s adults didn’t know the difference between a cardiac arrest and a heart attack, and didn’t know how to do CPR.

The survey, carried out by YouGov, found 38% of adults had never undertaken any form of training to learn essential CPR skills and 35% of adults thought that a cardiac arrest and a heart attack are the same thing.

The results have been revealed in the run up to this year’s Restart a Heart Day event – being held tomorrow (Saturday, 16 October) and come in the same week that North East Ambulance Service launched a new free resources section on its website, including videos demonstrations of how to do CPR and how to use a defibrillator.

Alex Mason, community resuscitation officer and Restart a Heart Day lead at North East Ambulance Service, said: “Cardiac arrests can happen to anyone at any time. For every minute that a person in cardiac arrest doesn’t receive CPR and defibrillation, their chance of survival drops by up to 10% - and with most cardiac arrests happening at home, it’s crucial that people are confident to know what to do to save a loved one’s life.

“People often confuse cardiac arrests with heart attacks, which is perfectly understandable, but they’re very different. The easiest way to remember it is electrics versus plumbing.

“With a heart attack, there’s a problem with the plumbing for the heart which means oxygen and blood are unable to get through to various bits of the heart so it can’t pump as well. The person will be conscious but in pain. With a cardiac arrest, there’s a problem with the electrics in the heart which means it’s not beating. That person will be unconscious and not breathing normally.

“In both cases, we want you to ring 999 immediately but if somebody is unconscious and not breathing normally, it’s also really important that you start CPR straight away and use a defibrillator if there’s one nearby. Our health advisors are trained to talk you through CPR over the phone – in fact, they helped around 8,000 people to do this last year – but we encourage everyone to learn CPR to give you the confidence that you’ll know what to do if you’re ever faced with that scenario.

“No-one ever wants to have to do CPR but it’s so easy to learn and your hands could quite literally save someone’s life.”

Restart a Heart Day, 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.

“Restart a Heart Day is usually one of our favourite events of the year, offering us the ideal opportunity to teach vital life-saving CPR skills to young people across the North East,” continued Alex. “Sadly, due to the pandemic and the current pressures on our service, we haven’t been able to offer as many sessions this year, but we hope that the videos in our new resources section on our website go some way to plugging that gap until we’re able to get back out there with gusto.

“All you need to get involved is a cushion and a device with internet connection, and we’d still really like to see your photographs of you supporting the campaign using the hashtag #RestartAHeart.”

The videos are available to watch here: www.neas.nhs.uk/get-involved/life-saving-skills 

Online resources are also available on the Resuscitation Council UK website at resus.org.uk/rsah and a digital training game is available at https://life-saver.org.uk

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.”

Dr Lynn Thomas, Medical Director at St John Ambulance, said: “St John Ambulance is determined to see the number of people with CPR and defibrillator knowledge in the UK grow and for bystanders to overcome any fear of assisting someone who has had a cardiac arrest. We are thrilled to be working with our partners in the Restart A Heart campaign once again and look forward to demonstrating to the public how easy and quick it is to pick up essential first aid skills which could potentially mean the difference between life and death. Ask us about our many free online resources, training courses and face-to-face education via our skilled volunteers. We want to empower as many people as possible to save a life using simple yet vital skills.”

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “CPR is a lifesaving skill which is quick and simple to learn, and you never know when you’ll need to use it or on who. Each year there are over 30,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests, but tragically the survival rate is currently less than one in 10 in the UK. This year millions of us saw how vitally important it is to know CPR when Christian Eriksen collapsed at the Euros - swift action in giving him CPR and using a defibrillator ultimately helped save his life. But not everybody is as fortunate, and that’s why we’re urging everyone to learn CPR to help improve survival rates and save lives.”

Dafydd Beech, National Community Education Manager at the British Red Cross, said: “Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest at the Euros highlighted the importance of knowing lifesaving first aid skills, like CPR. While it’s concerning that one third of adults don’t know what to do if someone is unresponsive and not breathing, the good news is that first aid is quick and easy to learn, and anyone can do it. The British Red Cross has lots of free resources for learning first aid, including a first aid app, which you can find out more about by visiting redcross.org.uk/first-aid.

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