Nursing student Jessica Ross is on a campaign to install defibrillators in remote locations
According to the British Heart Foundation, less than one in 10 people survive a cardiac arrest out of hospital in the UK. This is partially because bystanders don’t have the skills or confidence to perform CPR in the absence of an automated external defibrillator (AED).
Jessica Ross, a nursing student at the University of Nottingham, is working to change this by pushing to install more AEDs in new locations.
“Through my training, I learnt about the importance of CPR, resuscitation techniques and defibrillator use, and how necessary those are,” Jessica says. “I started to think how some people, especially those in rural locations, are disadvantaged if they do not have access to a nearby AED.”
Ms Ross, in her fourth year, is studying towards an undergraduate master of nursing science degree.
”At school I was interested in biology and sociology, which made me curious about nursing”
“At school I was interested in biology and sociology, which made me curious about nursing,” says Jessica. “So I volunteered at a residential home specialising in dementia care to get an idea for care work, and instantly loved it. I came home smiling every day and felt like a career revolving around care was something I would love to do.
“Going to work didn’t feel like a job, but something I enjoyed doing. That’s so important - that’s how it should always be.”
Jessica still volunteers at the same residential home when she’s away from university, but wants to shift her nursing focus to critical care or accident and emergency when she qualifies.
“I enjoy dementia care but I also like all of the faster-paced work too,” says Jessica. “I always have 10 million things going on at once, so it’s in my nature. I have had placements in critical care and really enjoyed it; I also work for an agency so have been looking for shifts in A&E to get experience of that spectrum of high-intensity work.”
The combination of her experience in critical care and university knowledge regarding CPR and resuscitation sparked Jessica’s interest in the need for AEDs in rural communities.
”The average ambulance response time is eight minutes, and the maximum time in which defibrillation is usually successful after cardiac arrest is 10 minutes”
“The average ambulance response time is eight minutes, and the maximum time in which defibrillation is usually successful after cardiac arrest is 10 minutes,” says Jessica. “Those two minutes are a small window, especially in rural villages that are far from a hospital.”
The British Heart Foundation has found that, after a cardiac arrest, every minute without CPR and defibrillation reduces chance of survival by 10 per cent.
“As there is no formal rule for AED implementation in villages, some people do not know how important they are” Jessica said. “The time between cardiac arrest and defibrillation is critical - AEDs are such a simple solution.”
At some point, Jessica became curious about whether her home village in Staffordshire had sufficient AED coverage. Shocked that it didn’t, she contacted her village council about getting an AED. The parish council of Hints and Canwell agreed with Jessica and were immediately on board with her initiative. There was only one obstacle: the price.
“The AED itself can cost around £1,000, and the case to protect it from weather conditions can cost in excess of £500,” Jessica said. “I found that I could get a grant from the BHF that greatly reduced the price - if you donate £400 to their foundation they will donate an AED to your community.”
In addition to the installation of an AED in Hints and Canwell, Jessica negotiated with the West Midlands Ambulance Service Trust to provide villagers with training in CPR and defibrillation to mitigate intimidation surrounding the techniques.
“Education is empowering,” Jessica said. “It’s brilliant to have the combination of defibrillators and training because it empowers people and gives them the confidence to help in a cardiac arrest situation.”
Jessica wants to continue giving more communities access to defibrillators.
“If every nurse went home to their village council and asked about AEDs in their community, so many lives could change,” Jessica said. “I want to be a point of contact to help people get defibrillators implemented where they live - it would make a great difference.”