The Royal College of Nursing has welcomed the draft community resuscitation strategy for Northern Ireland, which is intended to significantly to increase the number of people with cardiopulmonary resuscitation skills.
The Northern Ireland Executive announced in February 2013 the development of a regional community resuscitation strategy in order to boost lifesaving skills among the public. A draft was subsequently published for consultation last month.
The strategy is in response to the 1,300 cardiac arrests that occur each year in Northern Ireland outside hospital, of which fewer than 10% of people will survive to be discharged.
Northern Ireland health minister Edwin Poots said: “Experience from elsewhere has shown that community resuscitation can save lives. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation – or CPR – and early defibrillation are the two critical interventions that are required for a person to survive an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.”
The draft strategy focuses on the first three links of the cardiac arrest intervention model, the Chain of Survival – early recognition of a cardiac arrest; early CPR, and early defibrillation.
The objectives of the strategy include raising public awareness of the importance of early recognition of an out-of hospital cardiac arrest and encouraging members of the public to intervene when one occurs.
In addition, it calls for an increase in the availability of appropriate and effective CPR training provision and improve access to automated external defibrillators.
The Royal College of Nursing said it welcomed the draft community resuscitation strategy, but stated that it must truly engage communities across Northern Ireland to be successful.
In its response, the RCN makes a number of suggestions for strengthening it, particularly in respect of securing ownership within communities.
It also called for a more specific action plan to ensure the effective implementation of the strategy, focusing more on outcomes and less on data collection activity.
The working group that developed the draft strategy was chaired by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and included representatives from government departments, NHS organisations and voluntary bodies involved in resuscitation training.