100 days to save hundreds of lives? Campaign to get vital medical equipment into public places Cumbria-wide

Coun Alan Barry (left) with Coun John Murphy (centre) and Barrow Fire station watch manager Mark Ducie who demonstrated how to use a defib at today's launch) is invalid.

Coun Alan Barry (left) with Coun John Murphy (centre) and Barrow Fire station watch manager Mark Ducie who demonstrated how to use a defib at today's launch) is invalid.

First published in News
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The Westmorland Gazette: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

AN important campaign has being launched today to put vital life-saving equipment into 100 public places across Cumbria with a deadline of 100 days to do so.

Organisers want the cash to buy 100 special defibrillators to help save lives and time when cardiac arrests strike.

Nationally, 30,000 people suffer a cardiac arrest in public every year but if CPR and defibrillators are close by - survival rates go up 10 per cent.

But the equipment is rarely found in public places which means many can die or never recover before paramedics arrive.

The campaign today has been launched by newly-installed Cumbria County Council Chairman, Alan Barry, from Workington.

He plans to use his year in office and his fundraising appeal to drum up the finance - but wants to do so by mid-October.

Cumbria County Council says the plan is to purchase defibrillators and fit them inside secure metal boxes in public places with key code access.

It says if an emergency occurs, the 999 service will give the caller the location of the nearest machine along with the key code so that treatment can be administered while the ambulance is on its way.

The defibrillators broadcast verbal instructions on how to operate them but will only deliver a shock if a heartbeat is not detected - to ensure they’re only used when properly needed.

The appeal was originated by Walney-based Cumbria county councillor John Murphy and his late wife Eleanor in Barrow. The county-wide appeal is dedicated to her memory.

New chairman Coun Barry, said of the campaign: “This is such an important cause. I am passionate about raising money locally that will benefit local people going forward and I really hope we can reach and even exceed the target and put life-saving defibrillators in communities across Cumbria. I appeal to everyone in the county to get involved either by organising or taking part in a fundraising activity or by donating at the Cumberland Building Society.”

Cllr Murphy, who represents Old Barrow on the authority, added: “I am pleased that the chairman is taking this appeal county-wide. These machines really are life savers and I hope we can raise enough to place them in every community.”

A fundraising page has been added to the county council website where people can download a pack to help them get involved.

It is http://www.cumbria.gov.uk/100days/

Donations can be made at any Cumberland Building Society in Cumbria.

Ambulance service worker, David Webster, said: “If someone goes into cardiac arrest – it is vital to recognise the emergency, dial 999 and start CPR.  In additional to this, the most effective treatment is to use an AED.  

"The machine is so simple to operate, it tells the user exactly what to do, and it cannot harm the patient by unnecessarily shocking them as it only allows the user to deliver a shock if a patient’s heart is in a specific rhythm.

"The AED delivers an electric pulse through the chest, in an attempt to restore normal heart rhythm.  If defibrillation is delivered promptly, survival rates as high as 75% can be achieved.

“The placement of defibrillators is already saving lives across the North West and just as importantly is raising awareness on CPR and why it is so important to recognise a cardiac arrest and start providing help. I support the increase in availability of Automated Defibrillators within Cumbria. Making them more widely available will benefit everyone.”

At the weekend, a teacher on a school trip in the Lakes stepped in to give CPR to a young man who collapsed while walking at Pavey Ark in Great Langdale - although no defibrillator was deployed.

He was taken to the West Cumberland Infirmary, where his condition later stabilised.

A team spokesman for Langdale and Ambleside MRT said: "It's certain that the speedy delivery of CPR by the teacher and the rapid helicopter evacuation to hospital are the two crucial factors in giving this young man a fighting chance."

And an Ulverston grandmother owes her life to a defibrillator in a public place.

Bridget Brice, 71, from Ulverston, nearly died last November after collapsing while boarding a train at Lancaster railway station.

Her heart stopped beating independently for 15 minutes – and it was only the swift intervention of a team of strangers, including the commandeering of a public defib on the station platform - which saved her life.

She went on to open a temporary charity shop in Ulverston to raise money to get more defibs into public places.

The cardiac unit that saved Mrs Brice cost £800 and delivered the life-saving jolts of electricity which stopped the irregular heart spasm she was experiencing and then restarted her heart.

The North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has carried out a campaign called Cardiac Smart to get more defibs in public places and more people trained to use them.

Anyone interested in learning basic life support, or in becoming a Community First Responder, please visit www.nwas-responders.info or www.cardiacsmart.nwas.nhs.uk.

Intervention during a cardiac arrest is now known as a Chain Of Survival.

NWAS say that 30 years ago, it was discovered that if a series of events took place, in a set sequence, a patient suffering from a heart attack stood a greater chance of survival.

Its official guidance of the process is as follows:

The First Link

When Sudden Cardiac Arrest strikes, an immediate 999 call is crucial; a delay of just a few minutes could prove fatal.

By quickly recognising a medical emergency, a bystander can help save a life. Could you recognise the symptoms of Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

* Unresponsiveness

* Loss of consciousness

* Lack of pulse

* Cessation of breathing Sudden Breathlessness

Cardiac Arrest is not the same as a heart attack. However, a victim of either condition requires an immediate 999 call.

The Second Link

CPR or Cardiopulmonary resuscitation is the second link in the Chain of Survival; it is the link that can buy life-saving time between the first link (Early Access to Emergency Care) and the third link (Early Defibrillation).

During Sudden Cardiac Arrest, the heart twitches irregularly most often due to ventricular fibrillation (VF) and cannot pump oxygenated blood efficiently to the brain, lungs, and other organs. The victim quickly stops breathing and loses consciousness. However, prompt CPR can help sustain life during VF. The mouth-to-mouth breathing and chest compressions help oxygenated blood flow to the person's brain and heart, until defibrillation can attempt to restore normal heart pumping.

The Third Link

Although it is an important link in the Chain of Survival, CPR alone cannot fully resuscitate a person in SCA. Early defibrillation is the third and perhaps most significant link. Most SCA victims are in ventricular fibrillation (VF), an electrical malfunction of the heart that causes the heart to twitch irregularly. Defibrillation, the delivery of an electrical shock to the heart muscle, can restore normal heart function if it occurs within minutes of SCA onset. When CPR and defibrillation are provided within eight minutes of an episode, a person's chance of survival increases to 20%. When these steps are provided within four minutes and a paramedic arrives within eight minutes, the likelihood of survival increases to over 40%.

The Fourth Link

The fourth link in the Chain of Survival is advanced care. Paramedics and other highly trained EMS personnel provide this care, which can include basic life support, defibrillation, administration of cardiac drugs, and the insertion of endotracheal breathing tubes. This type of advanced care can help the heart in VF respond to defibrillation and maintain a normal rhythm after successful defibrillation. The trained EMS personnel monitor the patient closely on the way to the hospital, where more definitive diagnostic evaluation can occur.

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