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Resus just as effective when performed by the public

Resuscitation by members of the public is just as effective as when performed by ambulance crews, results from the national defibrillator programme show.

Public access defibrillation where non medical staff use static automated external defibrillators or take mobile ones to the casualty were introduced by the British Heart Foundation in the 1990s.Later this formed part of the strategies of the English and Welsh governments who joined forces with the charity to expand the programme.

The public initiated 1530 resuscitation attempts using a defibrillator from 1999 to 2005. Forty-eight per cent of these (735) has shocks given, with return of spontaneous circulation in 33% (245). Eighteen per cent (132) of those who were shocked were discharged from hospital alive. Those that were not shocked did less well (795) with only 4.4% (35) getting their circulation back and just 1.6% (13) surviving.

When responders saw people arresting, gave shocks and did cardio-pulmonary resuscitation prior to arrival of the defibrillator, victims did better. People who arrested at home did poorly and tended to be older.

Colin Elding, chest pain programme manager for the British Heart Foundation said:
‘We are committed to increasing access to life-saving defibrillators and in training people to use these in order to increase the chances of survival from cardiac arrest.’

The paper is published online in Resuscitation.

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