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Be a defib hero – fight for a life!

How would you feel if you saw someone go into cardiac arrest, you try your best to help but the patient passes away, then at a later date you find out that there was a defibrillator at a nearby location that could well have saved the patient’s life.

The Welsh Ambulance Service (WAS) and British Heart Foundation Cymru (BHF) are appealing for local organisations – including workplaces, sports clubs and community centres - to let them know if they have a defibrillator that could be used to save a life in an emergency.

Every year, 30,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest in the UK, but fewer than one in ten people survive.

But the BHF and WAS believe some people could be needlessly waiting too long for life-saving interventions by the public, including defibrillation.

When someone suffers a cardiac arrest, a specific set of actions called the Chain of Survival will give the victim the best chance of survival. These actions are an immediate 999 call, followed by early CPR and defibrillation and appropriate care once resuscitated.

When a 999-call is received by WAS to attend a cardiac arrest, WAS’ notification system will show the location of a nearby defibrillator thus allowing the call-taker to direct the caller to a defibrillator which could be used to try and resuscitate the patient whilst the ambulance service vehicle is making its way to the call.

There are however other occasions when there is no record of a defibrillator nearby and its location only comes to light at a later date...sadly very often of course too late for the patient!

The WAS and BHF Cymru now hope many organisations will come forward to inform them that they have a publically accessible defibrillator that can be added to a notification system for 999 operators taking emergency calls. This means the operator will be able to tell the caller where the nearest defibrillator is.

WAS’ Head of Clinical Services Richard Lee commented:

 “The point of a public access defibrillator is to provide a chance of survival for members of the public who suffer a cardiac arrest. Early access to a defibrillator may mean the difference between life or death for a member of your family, a friend, neighbour, colleague or visitor.

“This is an important piece of work. We need to be able to map out the location of defibrillators across Wales which will, in turn, enable more lives to be saved.

“Having the knowledge and information that there are tools at hand, in this case a defibrillator, may well provide an opportunity for someone to save the life of a member of the public.”

Judy O’Sullivan, Programme Director at the British Heart Foundation, said:

“When someone suffers a cardiac arrest, their life is dependent on the people on the scene having the confidence to perform CPR and use a defibrillator if it’s available. However, at the moment, too few people know how to perform CPR and the Welsh Ambulance Service are not aware of the locations of all of the publicly available defibrillators which means they can’t direct a bystander to the nearest one in the event of an emergency.

“Everyone has a role to play in saving more lives from cardiac arrests in Wales and we would urge all organisations to come forward if they have a defibrillator available for public use. By doing this we can ensure that people that suffer cardiac arrests don’t experience unnecessary delays in getting the defibrillator shock that could potentially save their life.

“At the BHF we’re committed to creating a Nation of Lifesavers by ensuring everyone knows the skills to save a life and that public access defibrillators are in the places they are needed most. We hope that by working with the WAS on rolling out our Call Push Rescue CPR training programme and raising awareness of public access  defibrillators we can start to save more lives from out of hospital cardiac arrest in Wales.”

Vaughan Gething AM, Deputy Health Minister commented:

“Knowing where and how to access defibrillators at a time of need can make the difference in saving lives. I would encourage all organisations with defibrillators to come forward and make them known to the ambulance service”.

In order to provide the appropriate information regarding the location of a defibrillator, an online reporting tool is available at: www.ambulance.wales.nhs.uk and www.nhsdirect.wales.nhs.uk

You will be asked for you or/and your organisation’s details including address/contact number/email address, the location/make/expiry date of the defibrillator, whether the defibrillator is in a locked cabinet and how to access the key if necessary, and whether it is available for the use of the general public in a nearby emergency.

BE A DEFIB HERO – FIGHT FOR A LIFE!