It's a sad fact that there are over 30,000 cardiac arrests in the community every year and less than one in ten people will survive. Over 80% of these cardiac arrests happen in peoples homes. Many more lives could be saved if people could recognise a heart attack, undertake basic cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and use a defibrillator.
To help try and improve the survival rate from a cardiac arrest locally, Welland Parish Council has recently installed a defibrillator outside Welland Primary School.
The Parish Council would now like to raise the awareness of how to recognise a heart attack and offer residents a free, hands-on training session with real defibrillators.
What is a heart attack?
A heart attack occurs when your heart muscle is starved of oxygen. The symptoms of a heart attack will vary from one person to another. The most common signs are:
• Chest pain: tightness, heaviness, pain or a burning feeling in your chest
• Pain in arms, neck, jaw, back or stomach. For some people this pain or tightness is severe, while other people just feel uncomfortable
• Pale colour
• Feeling light-headed
• Becoming short of breath
• Feeling nauseous or vomiting
If you think someone is having a heart get them to sit down and dial 999 immediately. Heart attacks are life-threatening and any delay in calling for help can be fatal. If you are uncertain if someone is having a heart attack or not still dial 999. The operator will ask you a few questions which will help them decide whether it is a possible heart attack. Don't wait to see if the pain goes before making a decision about dialling 999. If an aspirin (300mg) is available and the patient is not allergic to aspirins, ask them to slowly chew and then swallow it while you are waiting for an ambulance. 300mg aspirins are probably stronger than you would normally take , so it may be worth getting a box for your medicine cabinet just in case.
What is a cardiac arrest?
A cardiac arrest is where the electrical activity of your heart becomes so chaotic that the heart stops pumping and quivers of 'fibrillates' instead. A defibrillator can help to restart the heart if the patient is defibrillated soon after the heart has stopped.
Using a defibrillator
If a patient is to be successfully defibrillated they need to be defibrillated as soon as possible after their heart has stopped beating. For every minute that passes between when a patients heart has stopped beating and they receive an electric shock from a defibrillator, their chance of survival will reduce by about 10%. The sooner they receive an electric shock from a defibrillator, the greater the patients chance of survival. This is why the Parish Council has purchased a defibrillator for our community.
Anyone can use a defibrillator without training. Defibrillators are now highly automated and will tell the user what to do. They will not let you deliver an electric shock to a patient who does not need a shock so you cannot make the situation any worse. In addition to the defibrillator telling you what to do, once you have made a 999 call the ambulance service will help guide you by talking to you down the telephone.
• When you make the 999 call you will be provided with the code that opens the defibrillator box.
• If a trained operator is nearby they will be alerted to bring the defibrillator to you, otherwise you will need to ask a neighbor to collect it whilst you continue with CPR.
Although you do not need training to use a defibrillator or to do Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation(CPR), being trained will help maximise a patient in cardiac arrest chances of survival. Heartstart Malvern has already delivered one training session at the school and are happy to provide free courses and will teach you CPR and how to use a defibrillator. The training is open to anyone aged 11 or over. If you would like to attend a Heartstart Malvern training session, please book a place through their website www.heartstartmalvern.org.uk or let us know, through the website, if you are interested in the Parish Council arranging a local trading session in the Village Hall.