How they could save a life!

Each year in Britain around 30,000 people are affected by sudden cardiac arrest outside of the hospital environment. Anyone can be affected, at any time - from young children at school, to adults when they’re at home, work or out in public places.

If victims are not treated properly, more often than not, cardiac arrests are fatal. Statistics from the British Heart Foundation show that only one in ten victims survive. This is where some basic knowledge on the use of, and location of, a defibrillator can make the biggest difference in the survival rate of victims.

Whenever cardiac arrest strikes, there is absolutely no time to lose.

Every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces a victim’s survival rate by around 8 per cent. Without immediate treatment, 90-95 per cent of cardiac arrests prove fatal.

The stages of reaction to a sudden cardiac arrest are outlined below. Obviously, the quicker everything is done, the more chance there is of saving a life.

1. Call 999

The emergency services should be immediately alerted to the problem to organise immediate specialist help and will be able to advise you of the closest defibrillator to your location.

2. Start CPR and locate defibrillator

Once the emergency services have been called CPR should be administered as soon as possible. The emergency services will help you to locate a nearest defibrillator and put it to use by following the automated instructions given by the machine itself.

3. Continue until Emergency Services arrive.

Continue to give CPR (if being offered) and follow the instructions given by the defibrillator until the emergency services arrive to take over the victim’s care.

The most effective way of treating a victim is by carrying out CPR alongside the use of a defibrillator, but not everyone feels competent enough or are willing to carryout out CPR, but figures show that if just a defibrillator is used within 3-5 minutes of a cardiac arrest, survival rates can jump from 6 per cent to 74 per cent – which is huge. Modern day defibrillators are all easy-to-use models that talk its user through the whole process and clearly communicate what to do, making it almost impossible for them to be used ineffectively. A defibrillator provides high-energy, powerful electric shocks to the heart through pads which are placed on the chest near the heart. It’s the shock itself that’s called defibrillation.

The East of England Ambulance Service maintains a list of working defibrillators and their locations. If you are in need of a defibrillator in an emergency please call "999".