Why Learn CPR?

In England in 2013 the Emergency Medical Services (EMS) attempted to resuscitate approximately 28,000 cases of OHCA.1 There are many more cases of OHCA where the EMS do not attempt resuscitation because on their arrival the EMS assess the victim to be beyond resuscitation.

This is because the victim has been dead for several hours, or has suffered severe traumas which is not compatible with life, or because the opportunity to start resuscitation was not taken sooner while the EMS were on their way. If more bystanders had the confidence and skills to call 999 quickly, deliver effective cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) until the EMS arrive, and when appropriate use a public access defibrillator, the number of cases where the EMS could attempt resuscitation would increase.

Approximately 80% of OHCAs occur at home and 20% in public places.2 Only about 20% are in a ‘shockable rhythm’ (i.e. treatable by defibrillation) by the time the EMS arrive.2 Survival is much more likely when a shockable rhythm is present.3 The proportion of people in a shockable rhythm could be increased if more cardiac arrest victims received immediate and effective CPR from bystanders.

Therefore more immediate 999 calls and immediate CPR given by bystanders could increase the number of people who receive CPR by the EMS. This will increase the number of people who are given a chance of surviving, and ultimately increase the number of people who do survive when they are given CPR.4

The average overall survival to hospital discharge from 28 000 EMS-treated OHCA in England is 8.6%.1 This is significantly lower than for populations in other developed countries: North Holland 21%5, Seattle 20%6 and Norway 25%.3 Although these figures have to be interpreted with caution as there are some differences in the way that figures are presented, there is clear potential to improve survival rates in the UK.

Improving survival rates from out of hospital cardiac arrest is a major priority for the Resuscitation Council (UK), the British Heart Foundation and NHS England. This was identified by the Department of Health in the Cardiovascular Disease Outcomes Strategy (2013). (UK Resuscitation Council)

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