Article Written by David Waters, Chief Executive, Council of Ambulance Authorities
Extract: MHF Life, 2nd Edition, 2019
Publishing Partner: Access News
ACROSS the world more than three million people die every year from out of hospital cardiac arrest (OHCA).
In Australia, there are more than 27,000 fatalities annually; in New Zealand there are more than 4,000 deaths.
Since 2016, when the Council of Ambulance Authorities CAA) was appointed the Australasian Secretariat for the Global Resuscitation Alliance (GRA), the campaign to increase survival rates has gained momentum in Australia and New Zealand.
In particular, CAA has overseen a coordinated response from its member ambulance services for World Restart A Heart Day (RAHD) on October 16.
Leading the world in a united response, CAA’s 10 ambulance service members have orchestrated events to educate members of the public in CPR and how to use an Automated External Defibrillator (AED) to generate awareness.
The first national campaign in 2017 saw thousands of school children and adults engaged in events at schools, shopping centres, beaches, airports and sports grounds in metropolitan, regional and remote communities.
In 2018, more than 25,000 people were educated as part of the campaign involving hundreds of paramedics and ambulance staff and the Australian Prime Minister.
Scott Morrison launched the CAA campaign on the lawns outside parliament house in Canberra reinforcing the dramatic statistics, which show that the annual death toll is akin to losing the entire population of a regional Australian city.
“Only one in 10 survive. In some cases where they are close by to hospitals or emergency services, obviously that can improve. But for many it could be anywhere, at any time and it could rob loved ones from their families, friends, fathers, husbands, wives grandparents, all in an instant.
Evidence tells story
“Every shred of evidence tells us that lives are saved when a witness to a cardiac arrest, a bystander, steps up to perform CPR and if they can, use a defibrillator while an ambulance is on the way.”
CAA Chief Executive David Waters said the incredible death toll from sudden cardiac arrest continues to be unacceptable.
Mr Waters said bystander intervention in the event of a cardiac arrest has been proven to dramatically increase a person’s chances of survival if action is taken immediately.
“We know that for every minute that passes without CPR or an electric shock from an AED, a person’s chance of survival drops by ten per cent. A bystander who witnesses someone collapse and fall into a lifeless state can make the difference between life and death if the perform CPR.”
Mr Waters said the campaign’s key messages – Call, Push Shock – will continue to be the focal point of the 2019 campaign.
“We need people to instinctively call their emergency number (000 in Australia), Push and begin CPR and Shock using an AED if one is available.”
He said it was important to remember that anyone, of any age, can suffer a cardiac arrest. Equally, anyone has the capacity to perform CPR.
Mr Waters said exhaustive research in Seattle and King County, Washington, which has one of the world’s highest survival rates at more than 60 per cent, formed the basis of the life-saving campaign.
“Seattle’s 10-step program is being widely adopted by ambulance services.
“Paramedics are learning more every day about the impact of High-Performance CPR where teams operating like a pit crew treat a cardiac with extreme precision, and emergency call takers are receiving training in telephone CPR to help effectively instruct callers in an emergency.”
The 2019 campaign goal is to educate more than 50,000 people.
“Members of the public can also visit our website www.restartaheart.net for information on cardiac arrests and access material to host their own RAHD event including QandA sheets, maps to chart the location of your nearest AED and instructional videos.”