North East joins national lifesaving circuit of community accessible defibrillators

North East Ambulance Service is the fifth in the country to turn the British Heart Foundation’s The Circuit of community based defibrillators live in the North East.

After many months of testing, from this week, health advisors and dispatchers dealing with emergency 999 and urgent 111 calls for the service will have access to over 60,000 defibrillators UK wide instead of the 1,200 based solely in the North East. 

Having access to the UK Circuit means that when calls are taken from different parts of the region, community defibs are visible to the teams looking for the nearest resources and can send a person on the scene of an incident to retrieve a nearby defibrillator to help save a patient’s life. 

There are around 2,100 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the North East of England each year, but just one in 16 people survive. Every minute that passes without CPR or defibrillation reduces the chances of survival by up to 10 per cent, but immediate CPR and defibrillation can more than double the chances of survival. 

The British Heart Foundation (BHF), Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK), St John Ambulance and Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), warn that the low survival rate is likely to be in part because public access defibrillators are used in less than one in 10 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.

This is often because 999 call handlers aren’t always aware that a defibrillator is available nearby, because the ambulance service hasn’t been told about it. If they don’t know it is there, they can’t direct someone at the scene to go and get it while waiting for the ambulance to arrive whilst the ambulance is travelling.

To help save more lives, the BHF, RCUK, St John Ambulance and AACE are urging defibrillator guardians - people who own and maintain defibrillators in places such as offices, communities, shopping centres and leisure centres, as well as in public places - to register them on a pioneering database called The Circuit: The national defibrillator network.

While ambulance services have previously had their own regional databases, The Circuit is replacing these with a new national database that lets the ambulance services see defibrillators across the UK once it has been rolled out. 

The Circuit could help to save thousands of lives – but it is vital that as many defibrillators as possible are registered on the database for it to work effectively.  It is estimated that there are tens of thousands of defibrillators which are still to be registered on the new system in the UK. To make sure opportunities to save lives aren’t being missed, the organisations are aiming to see 70,000 additional defibrillators unknown to The Circuit registered by the end of the year.  

Since the launch of the plans, hundreds of existing defibrillators have been registered and added to the database.

Alex Mason, community resuscitation officer at North East Ambulance Service, said: “As we know, defibrillators save lives but to ensure that this happens, the ambulance service needs to know where they are.

“We would encourage every community group, every parish council, every organisation and every business that has a defibrillator to register them on The Circuit so that if someone has a cardiac arrest, they can receive early defibrillation which is the key to successful resuscitation.”

“A key part of the chain of survival is early CPR and early defibrillation, and whilst our ambulances carry defibrillators, when time is of the essence, having one available which can be used by a member of the public prior to their arrival can significantly increase the chance of survival.   You do not need to be trained to use one as the device will talk you through what to do as well as providing visual prompts, and they will only deliver a shock if the person’s heart needs it.”

“Knowing where defibrillators are located is therefore vital to try and increase the number of people who survive a cardiac arrest, and I would urge anyone who with a defibrillator at their premises, be it a community centre, a supermarket or a local business, to please register it on The Circuit so that all UK ambulance services are aware and can direct someone to it.”

It’s free to register your defibrillator onto The Circuit, and you only have to do it once. You can also register multiple defibrillators if you are the guardian to more than one.

Visit TheCircuit.UK for more information or to register your defibrillator.  

If you'd like to find out more about purchasing a defibrillator, click here

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