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  • Writer's pictureKenneth Gibson MSP

Save a Life for Scotland

More than 60,000 people across Scotland were given life-saving cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training in 2016 as part of an unprecedented national collaboration of more than a dozen organisations, including emergency services and the voluntary groups such as Largs Community Resilience Team to improve out-of-hospital cardiac arrest outcomes.

CPR is an emergency procedure that combines chest compression, often with artificial ventilation, to manually preserve intact brain function until further measures are taken to restore spontaneous blood circulation and breathing in a person who is in cardiac arrest. It is essential where someone is unresponsive with no breathing or abnormal breathing.

The SNP Government has reviewed progress of the first year of Scotland’s Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Strategy which aims to save 1,000 extra lives over five years and equip an additional half a million people in Scotland with CPR skills.

Said Kenneth Gibson:

“Each year in Scotland there are around 3,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests. Cardiac arrest is when a person’s heart completely stops and, if this happens, CPR must be administered within minutes or the person will probably die. That is why CPR training and education are so vitally important.

“Our strategy aims to equip as many people as possible with these life-saving skills as well as looking at how our healthcare and emergency services can support a rapid and effective response to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest. Over the last year significant progress has been made. These solid foundations are now being assessed, with a focus in 2017 on raising awareness amongst young people about the importance of CPR.”

The report, Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest – A Strategy for Scotland Review 2015-16, details a series of key results achieved in the strategy’s first year and sets out the priorities for 2017.

The key achievements include:

• The establishment of Save a Life for Scotland as the banner under which all partner organisations are raising awareness of CPR activity and signposting to, and delivering training activities.

• The training of over 60,000 people in CPR skills.

• The British Heart Foundation supplied ‘Call-Push-Rescue’ training kits to all 356 Scottish Fire and Rescue stations, which local communities can access.

• The Scottish Ambulance Service and Scottish Fire and Rescue Service have begun trialing a co-response system for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest at ten stations. Initial evidence suggests that this has contributed to a reduction in response times and improved patient outcomes.

• Numerous CPR training events held in schools, shopping malls and at major events like the Royal Highland Show and the Edinburgh Tattoo.

Actions in 2017 will include:

• The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service will trial an initiative in three pilot areas across Scotland to raise awareness and provide information on how to assist someone experiencing an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest during Home Fire Safety Visits.

• Save a Life for Scotland will launch a social media campaign with Young Scot to engage them in CPR training opportunities.

• The use of defibrillators by the roadside will be trialed by Police Scotland.

• The Scottish Ambulance Service will map the locations of all Public Access Defibrillators

• The next phase of the strategy will prioritise engaging with communities that have disproportionately poorer outcomes from out-of-hospital cardiac arrest to increase skills and awareness.

Dr Gareth Clegg, Resuscitation Research Group lead, University of Edinburgh, added:

“Every week across Scotland the equivalent of a full double decker bus load of people have resuscitation attempted after out-of-Hospital cardiac arrest. Unfortunately only around 1 in 20 of these people will return home to their families alive.

“Scotland’s strategy for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest brings together a range of partners from emergency services to third sector organisations. Together we have the opportunity to save hundreds of lives across the country, but we need the help of the people of Scotland.

“By being willing to perform bystander CPR, anyone could dramatically increase the chance of a victim’s survival. The people of Scotland have the power to save lives in our hands.”

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