Cardiac arrest patients support ambulance service Restart a Heart Day plea for the public to perform life-saving CPR

16 October 2020

Yorkshire Ambulance Service warns that confusion around what to do during the COVID-19 pandemic when someone is in cardiac arrest could cause delays in life-saving action and put lives at risk.

New research commissioned by the Resuscitation Council (UK) has revealed that more than half (52%) of adults in Yorkshire and the Humber thought that all bystander CPR should only be carried out by professionals wearing PPE during the COVID-19 pandemic, or they didn’t know [1].

As the Trust marks Restart a Heart Day on Friday 16 October 2020, the message is clear – members of the public must act immediately to perform CPR when someone has collapsed and stopped breathing while taking simple steps to reduce the risk of COVID-19.

Jon Thordarson, Community Resuscitation Manager for Yorkshire Ambulance Service, said: “Cardiac arrests are still happening and survival rates are still terribly low (one in 10). We want to raise awareness of how to do CPR safely during the pandemic so people feel confident to act immediately and help a member of their family, a friend, colleague or stranger if they collapse and stop breathing normally. It’s simple, their actions could make the difference between someone living or dying.”

With early reports showing that the chance of survival may have decreased in many countries during the pandemic because fewer bystanders are helping in an emergency [2], it is essential that the public take the time to learn CPR skills using the updated guidance from the Resuscitation Council (UK) [3].

The key changes are loosely laying a face covering, such as a mask, cloth, towel or item of clothing, over the mouth and nose of the person who has collapsed and to do hands-only CPR (no mouth-to-mouth rescue breaths).

This year’s campaign is supported by cardiac arrest survivors and their rescuers who saved them by performing CPR:

  • 46-year-old Wayne Denny, of Halifax, performed CPR on his younger brother Craig, of Bradford, when he collapsed unexpectedly at the family-run garage. Their sister, who also lives in Halifax, has now embarked on a year of monthly walking and climbing challenges around Yorkshire to raise money for the Yorkshire Ambulance Service Charity and awareness of the importance of CPR and defibrillators.
  • Hull GP Practice Manager Mandy Edwards saved her husband’s life by performing CPR before the ambulance crews arrived.
  • Volunteer Community First Responder John Best was in the right place at the right time when Victor Wainwright collapsed in cardiac arrest just a few streets away from John’s home in Middlestown, Wakefield.

Over the last six years on Restart a Heart Day, Yorkshire Ambulance Service has provided free CPR training to more than 151,000 youngsters at 82% of the secondary schools across Yorkshire.

Due to COVID-19, the usual face-to-face training has been replaced with online sessions which will be held throughout the day on Friday.

Currently in the UK, less than one in ten (8.6%) people survive a cardiac arrest. If we achieved the same survival rates of countries like Norway (25%), where CPR is taught in schools, an additional 100 lives could be saved each week - the equivalent of approximately 5,000 every year.

Supported by the Yorkshire Ambulance Service Charity, which funds CPR awareness initiatives, the event is delivered and promoted in partnership with the Resuscitation Council (UK), British Heart Foundation (BHF), St John Ambulance and the Red Cross.