Save a Life Cymru has appointed six first-of-their-kind community co-ordinators to transform CPR and defibrillation access – positioning Wales as a frontrunner in implementing strategies for cardiac arrest survival among the home nations.
Data reveals that in Wales, the survival rate after experiencing an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA) remains below 5%, compared to their UK counterparts at 10%.
In a move to better this statistic, the six community co-ordinators – located throughout Wales – have been appointed with the task to actively helping improve the nation’s chances of survival.
The responsibilities of the co-ordinators include working with communities, third sector organisations and charitable trusts to educate about Basic Life Support (BLS) awareness and training, and the four links of the cardiac arrest chain of survival; early recognition and call for help, early CPR, early defibrillation, and post resuscitation care.
The coordinators also provide hands on advice and support regarding Public Access Defibrillators (PADs), and work with communities to support the registration and maintenance of every defibrillator on The Circuit – which is crucial in helping to ensure that 999 call handlers can alert bystanders to nearby defibrillators in critical situations. If a defib isn’t registered on the Circuit, they will not be recognised by the ambulance service.
The urgency of early response cannot be overstated, as each passing minute without life-saving CPR and defibrillation decreases the patient’s likelihood of survival by 10%. The co-ordinators are dedicated to building confidence so people will act fast if they see a cardiac arrest by attempting CPR, receiving guidance from call-handlers, and accessing a defibrillator.
Each co-ordinator is responsible for a geographical area in Wales – to ensure support is available in even the most rural locations. All six have experience working within the healthcare profession – including 999 call-takers, resuscitation practitioners and experienced paramedics. They include:
- Sian Davis – team leader for south Wales
- Chris West – team leader for north Wales
- Tomos Hughes – north Wales
- Chris Joyce – south east Wales
- Haden Tipples – central south Wales
- Marc Gower – south west Wales
Haden Tipples, community co-ordinator for central south Wales, said:
“Many people mistakenly believe that cardiac arrests exclusively affect men within a specific age group, which I know first-hand not to be true following the tragic death of my niece who was 18 months old at the time. A cardiac arrest can occur to people of all ages and genders, anywhere and at any time, irrespective of their health status.
“This is why our work as community coordinators is important. We want to ensure there is an equal opportunity for survival for everyone throughout Wales.”
Julie Starling, manager for the Community Co-ordinator team and the Clinical Out of Hospital Cardiac Arrest Programme Manager for Wales, said: “We are delighted to be the first of the home nations to appoint CPR and defib community co-ordinators. It has been a long-term goal to provide enhanced support to all communities with the aim of increasing cardiac survival rates in Wales.
“Our co-ordinators are already out and about in their local communities and are committed to help educate and support people with their CPR and defibrillation skills. Witnessing a cardiac arrest is a scary thing but we want communities in Wales to feel as prepared as possible if they are in that situation and have the confidence to help. The more bystanders that help and communities that are equipped then the better our cardiac survival rates will be.”
Save a Life Cymru, is the strategic lead in Wales dedicated to improving cardiac arrest survival rates, advocating for CPR and defibrillation within communities and urging individuals to learn or refresh these lifesaving skills.
The organisation’s ‘Help is Closer Than You Think’ campaign – which is backed by sporting legends Shane Williams and Aaron Ramsey – aims to give people the confidence to act quickly if a cardiac arrest happens.
If a cardiac arrest happens, call 999. The call taker will tell you what to do, talk you through how to do CPR and direct you to the nearest registered defibrillator and they will also send an ambulance crew.
You can find out more about CPR and defibrillation training at https://executive.nhs.wales/SaLC
You can also learn CPR in 15 minutes for free through RevivR here: https://www.bhf.org.uk/revivr