First aid and health response charity, St John Ambulance, is calling for more volunteers in Harrow and across London to help increase community cardiac arrest survival rates by equipping volunteers with the skills needed to help save lives.
The charity, working with NHS England, is calling for those living in London to become a ‘Community Advocates’ for their area. These are St John Ambulance-trained volunteers who will work within the heart of their communities to help promote the importance of learning lifesaving skills.
Volunteers will be trained in skills such as CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation), which they will then go on to share with neighbours and their wider community through the initiative – so more people will have the confidence to know what to do in an emergency.
Each year, over 30,000 people in England have a cardiac arrest outside of hospital, of which over 5,200 happened in the capital, last year and it is estimated just 8.6% of those will survive and go on to make a full recovery.
St John has identified areas at highest risk by mapping survival rates against existing access to lifesaving training. The research suggests that areas such as North East England, Cambridgeshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk and the South West may also be at higher risk.
To help reduce this, the charity is recruiting a network of ‘Community Advocates’, who will work locally to debunk common defibrillator and CPR myths and promote defibrillator locations as well as the importance of registering the devices onto The Circuit – the national defibrillator network.
As part of the NHS Long Term Plan, and with help from St John, NHS England hopes to increase survival rates by 25% through the network of Community Advocates meaning up to 4,000 more people could survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest by 2028.
Medical Director for St John Ambulance, Dr Lynn Thomas, said: “We are proud to be at the heart of communities delivering vital care and support to those who need us most. Through our CPR Community Network, we hope more people will have the confidence to step in and help in an emergency.
“In a cardiac arrest the worst thing you can do is nothing. By starting chest compressions and applying a defibrillator, you could help increase the chances of survival.
“Basic first aid and lifesaving skills like CPR are easy to learn and could make all the difference in helping save a life of a loved one, colleague, or a passer-by in a life-threatening situation.
“Our Community Advocates are working hard sharing these vital skills with others in their community.”
‘Community Advocates’ are trained for free by St John Ambulance and learn first aid and defibrillator awareness. Those enrolled use their new knowledge and awareness to teach these lifesaving skills to others.
Professor Sir Stephen Powis, NHS Medical Director said: “It is essential that there are people in the community who are equipped with the knowledge, skills and equipment they need to be able to save a life, and the NHS is proud to be working with St John and other partners to champion the importance of learning how to recognise and respond to out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
“We know that if more people were able to deliver CPR until an ambulance crew arrives, find and use a defibrillator, the number of lives saved would double.”
St John Ambulance is asking Community Advocates to give just three hours a month to help save lives in their community.
Sign up to become a Community Advocate in your area by visiting St John Ambulance’s website.