Leading charities and health organisations are urging public access defibrillator owners in the North West of England to register their devices on a new national database, called The Circuit, which could help save thousands of lives from cardiac arrests in the coming years.

There are around 3,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests each year in the North West of England, but just one in 15 people survive. Every minute that passes without CPR or defibrillation reduces the chances of survival by up to 10 per cent in some instances, but immediate CPR and defibrillation can more than double the chances of survival.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF), Resuscitation Council UK (RCUK) St John Ambulance and Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), warn that the low survival rate is likely to be in part because public access defibrillators are used in less than one in 10 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests.

This is often because 999 call handlers aren’t always aware that a defibrillator is available nearby, because the ambulance service hasn’t been told about it. If they don’t know it is there, they can’t direct someone at the scene to retrieve it while waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

To help save more lives, the BHF, RCUK, St John Ambulance and AACE are urging defibrillator guardians – people who own and maintain defibrillators in places such as offices, communities, shopping centres and leisure centres, as well as in public places – to register them on a pioneering database called The Circuit: The national defibrillator network.

While ambulance services have previously had their own regional databases, The Circuit will eventually replace these with a new national database that lets the ambulance services see defibrillators across the UK once it has been rolled out. This will allow them to direct people to the nearest defibrillator when somebody is having a cardiac arrest.

The Circuit could help to save thousands of lives – but it is vital that as many defibrillators as possible are registered on the database for it to work effectively. It is estimated that there are tens of thousands of defibrillators which are still to be registered on the new system in the UK. To make sure opportunities to save lives aren’t being missed, the organisations are aiming to see 70,000 additional defibrillators unknown to The Circuit registered by the end of the year.

The rapid use of CPR and a defibrillator last weekend following the collapse of a spectator at a Premier League match, as well the prompt treatment for Danish footballer Christian Ericksen when he experienced a cardiac arrest during the Euros in the summer, have both underlined the vital importance of knowing where the nearest defibrillator is.

Helen Chalker, from Altrincham, wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for the help of a defibrillator. Helen was taking part in a dance class when she had a sudden cardiac arrest in May 2018, aged 53.

Members of the class rushed to Helen’s aid, performing CPR and using a defibrillator that had been installed at the venue, to help restart her heart. The mum-of-two was then taken to hospital, where medics found that the arteries in Helen’s heart were blocked, and she required a triple heart bypass.

Helen, now aged 56, said: “It had been a relaxed, happy evening, and I remember sitting down to take a rest after doing about seven or eight salsa dances. I had been talking to a friend and then I had this odd feeling, before I collapsed.

“I was told that the whole group worked together. They shocked my heart twice and that’s when I started to come round. The group were by my side throughout and I just couldn’t have asked for better help and care.

“Time was so crucial, as the longer without CPR and a defibrillator, then the damage could have been much worse. The consultants told me I was extremely lucky to be alive, which really brought home to me the importance of CPR and defibrillators. It is a miracle I was saved.

“I’m so pleased that The Circuit has been launched and to hear that this could save more lives. I encourage defibrillator guardians to register their devices on it as soon as possible.”

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said: “Every second counts when someone has a cardiac arrest and, alongside CPR, prompt use of a defibrillator is critical in giving them the best chance of survival. To put it simply, knowing where the nearest defibrillator is could be the difference between life and death.

“The Circuit is pioneering technology which will help emergency services direct bystanders more quickly to a defibrillator when someone collapses with a cardiac arrest. But for The Circuit to save lives, it is vital that the tens of thousands of unregistered defibrillators across the UK are put on the system.

“If you, or somebody you know is a defibrillator guardian, then we urge you to register your device on The Circuit. You could help save a life.”


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