Restart a Heart Day: The lifesaving Covid-safe CPR skills you need to help someone suffering a cardiac arrest

Restart a Heart Day (October 16) is an annual event urging people to learn the simple steps needed to save a life, including how to give CPR safely during the pandemic.

Thursday, 15th October 2020, 3:31 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th October 2020, 3:34 pm
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The team at life-saving charity Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex (KSS) says performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) is the only way to give somebody suffering a cardiac arrest their best chance of survival.

KSS is regularly called out to patients with critical heart conditions and its highly-skilled crews have seen first-hand the vital importance of family members and members of the public delivering CPR prior to the arrival of the emergency services.

A 65-year-old cardiac arrest survivor from East Grinstead is backing the campaign. Steve Morris’s life was saved in February 2015 when two members of staff at his gym gave him lifesaving CPR when he collapsed on the treadmill. B He added: “Without the intervention of bystanders, I wouldn’t be here today.

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“I understand people’s concerns about Covid-19, but cardiac arrests won’t just go away during this pandemic – they still happen and if people don’t step in to act immediately, that person’s chance of survival reduces rapidly with every single minute which passes.

“I implore people to have a go; by learning some really simple CPR skills, while keeping yourself save, you can save a life, like mine.”

Another real-life case is 49-year-old Saroj. His wife, Sarah found him collapsed on their bathroom floor and immediately called 999. She was told over the phone how to give CPR, which she kept up for ten minutes until the South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) arrived. The ambulance crew took over from Sarah to perform advanced life support, helping to keep Saroj alive. Due to the severity of Saroj’s situation, KSS were called to attend, bringing a consultant and critical care paramedic to the scene, along with their LUCAS machine - a critical piece of equipment which delivers chest compressions mechanically.

Sarah said: “Saroj didn’t respond to the CPR or the defibrillator. He’d gone into cardiac arrest, which is usually fatal. The LUCAS machine was critical in maintaining CPR whilst Saroj was moved to St George’s Hospital in London in a land ambulance, being cared for at all times by the KSS team. Just before we arrived at the hospital, Saroj’s heart started again.

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“I have no doubt that my husband would not be here today if it weren’t for the crews from SECAmb and Air Ambulance Kent Surrey Sussex.”

Prof Richard Lyon MBE, associate medical director at KSS and a member of Resuscitation Council UK’s executive committee, said: “Sarah delivering CPR so quickly undoubtedly helped to save her husband’s life as did SECAmb’s fast arrival on the scene. Team work is crucial in optimising the outcome for cardiac arrest patients.

“Using the LUCAS device and being able to deliver Saroj to hospital with a beating heart was critical to this successful outcome. KSS has a strong track record in giving patients with ongoing resuscitation needs an advanced level of care and the very highest chance of survival. We are delighted that Saroj has made such a good recovery.”

Around 80 percent of out of hospital sudden cardiac arrests occur in the home and a person’s chances of surviving a cardiac arrest reduces by up to 10 percent with every minute without CPR and defibrillation. KSS says the clear message on Restart a Heart Day is to learn CPR and have the confidence to do it.

The organisations leading this year’s Restart a Heart Day include the Resuscitation Council UK, St John Ambulance and the British Heart Foundation.

These organisations are calling on all UK ambulance services and asking the public to ‘get hands on’ and act immediately by performing hands-only CPR in an emergency.

A spokesperson from KSS said the hands-only approach helps to protect against the transmission of Covid-19.

The spokesperson said: “It is vital the bystanders continue to help in an emergency. The key changes are loosely laying a face covering, such as a mask, cloth, towel or item of clothing, over the mouth and nose of the person who has collapsed and to do hands-only CPR (no mouth-to-mouth).”

The CPR recommended skills can be learned on and around October 16 through the free digital resources available at www.resus.org.uk/rsah and by participating in digital training events across the country. You can also follow the conversation online at #RestartAHeart.

David Welch, CEO at KSS, said: “Learning CPR should be essential for everyone. It can dramatically increase the chances of survival for anyone who is suffering a cardiac arrest and that is why KSS is very keen to spread the message on Restart a Heart Day and encourage people to look at the available resources. You never know when you may be in a situation needing to help someone and it is far better to be fully prepared.”

Below are the steps to take if you witness a cardiac arrest during Covid-19:

If you see someone has collapsed and is not breathing or not breathing normally, do not put your face next to theirs when checking for breathing. Instead, check for signs of breathing by looking to see if their chest or stomach is moving.

Call 999.

Lay a face covering, such as a mask, a cloth, towel or piece of clothing loosely over the mouth and nose of the person who has collapsed (i.e. do not seal the mouth and nose)

Do not do mouth to mouth rescue breaths

Start chest compressions by pressing hard on the chest two times per second – you can keep your time by following the beat of Stayin’ Alive or Baby Shark.

Use a public access defibrillator if one is available

Dr Andrew Lockey, consultant in emergency medicine and co-lead for World Restart a Heart Day, said: “Worries about Covid-19 should not deter anyone from doing the right thing in an emergency.

“The principle message for Restart a Heart is that you can still save a life, whilst keeping yourself safe.

“Don’t be afraid to get hands on and save a life.”