Most cardiac arrests take place either at home or in the workplace and there are more than 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the UK every year.
Resuscitation is attempted in half of these cases, and fewer than one in 10 people survive. A London Ambulance Survey found that the survival rate rose to 57.1% when a bystander used an AED during first aid response.
While more and more workplaces are installing public defibrillators, simply having the machines is not enough.
A study by the Openheart Journal has found a reluctance is people willing to use them, with 69% of people questioned saying they knew what an AED was, but only 2.1% saying they would attempt to retrieve and use one in a cardiac arrest situation.
While figures for the UK are difficult to locate, we know that in the US, 400 deaths from cardiac arrest are reported to Occupational Safety and Health Administration each year.
The Resuscitation Council reinforces the point in its ‘A guide to AEDs’:
“Having an AED in the workplace will ensure that a defibrillator is available immediately to give a person in cardiac arrest the best chance of survival, rather than waiting for the ambulance service to attend.”
The average ambulance response time is 6.9 minutes.
Gary Ellis, from CE Safety, said:
“A person’s chance of surviving an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest decreases by an estimated 10% with every passing minute. And a person’s chance of surviving cardiac arrest in a work environment goes from 1-5% if given CPR alone, to between 49-75% if given CPR and an AED is used quickly.
“The numbers speak for themselves. Half of all out-of-hospital cardiac arrests are witnessed by a bystander. It is vital that we not only see greater access to defibrillators around the UK, but that we train as many people as possible in both work and public environments in how to handle a defibrillator confidently and effectively. In emergency situations they are literally life savers.”
It is still not yet a legal requirement to implement a machine in any particular workplace setting, despite calls to change the law.
The growth of public defibrillators
The importance of AEDs became ingrained into public psyche back in summer, when Danish footballer Christian Eriksen suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during a Euro 2020 championship match, which he survived thanks to immediate medical attention that involved CPR and a defibrillator. Increases in sales of AED machines followed.
Following the on-pitch Christian Eriksen incident, Dr Sonya Babu-Narayan, Associate Medical Director and Consultant Cardiologist for British Heart Foundation, said:
“This shocking event is a stark reminder that a cardiac arrest can strike anyone, anywhere and anytime, without warning.
“It’s crucial that we continue to find opportunities to offer everyone training in CPR – including in secondary school education – and that we make public access defibrillators readily available in the places they are needed most. This will mean that more people could get the rapid and life-saving response that Christian received.”
The Welsh government has just announced an additional £500k to improve community access to defibrillators in an effort to boost out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survival rates. The Automated External Defibrillators bill is currently being read in Northern Ireland and CPR is due to be on the school curriculum from later this year.
For more information about cardiac arrest and defibrillators, visit CE Safety here.
Other key points in the post: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO AEDs: The rise of the life-saving defibrillator – and what needs to be done to increase survival rates
- There’s been a recent step forward in the fight to make AEDs compulsory in schools thanks to the tireless work from the Oliver King Foundation (which says Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS) kills 12 people under the age of 35 every week in the UK.
- The Openheart Journal’s study, which looked into global use of defibrillators over five years, concluded that more should be done to highlight the importance of public defibrillators and training should be available to boost confidence in using them if more lives are to be saved.
- There is inequality around cardiac arrest, with residents in more deprived areas and areas with a greater proportion of ethnic minorities being more likely to suffer. This is due to lower incidence of CPR and lack of AEDs.
- The Resuscitation Council says studies have shown children to be capable of using AEDs in simulated cardiac arrest scenarios.
- Research on the effectiveness of drones delivering AEDs in an emergency situation have shown how they could reach a patient quicker than an ambulance.
- A comprehensive guide about AEDs (how to use, cost, where are they etc)