Can you do CPR and use a defibrillator?
I couldn’t, but this week I was trained to do both with Welsh Hearts in a meeting room in Parliament. Welsh Hearts had come to explain to MPs from across Wales why public access defibrillators are so important in saving lives. Learning how to administer CPR and use the defibrillator was so straightforward, I felt guilty that I had not learned how to do this before.
Heart failure and cardiac arrests are a major killer in Wales. They are often associated with older people but undiagnosed heart conditions can kill apparently healthy young people and children too. And of course, someone can suffer a cardiac arrest anywhere at any time. It can take just a few minutes for the brain to be fatally starved of oxygen so the speed at which someone is given emergency resuscitation by CPR and a defibrillator is critical.
The Welsh Hearts charity has helped to place 853 defibrillators in Welsh communities, 30,524 people have been trained in CPR and they have helped set up a heart screening programme which has already seen 1400 18 – 35 year olds to detect heart abnormalities. The charity is also endorsed by the Welsh Ambulance Service NHS Trust and every police force in Wales.
The Welsh Government is also working hard in this area, recognising that a person’s chance of survival drops by 10% for every minute they are in an out of hospital cardiac rest. A new ambulance response system has been trialled targeting the most serious cases, which has had a positive effect on response times. Welsh Hearts are keen that all children learn these first aid techniques and the Welsh Government has been promoting first aid training in schools and across services.
Welsh Hearts’ work means that more defibrillators can be placed in more communities and more people can be trained to give life saving emergency resuscitation.
I hope I won’t ever be in a situation where someone’s life is about to be lost, but now I have learned these new skills I will be ready to use them.