Portsmouth is the first city in the south to host a ‘restart a heart’ day to help citizens learn vital skills needed in the precious minutes between a 999 call and an ambulance arriving.
Organised by the University of Portsmouth, South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS) and St John’s Ambulance, the event will provide demonstrations as well as training mannequins for participants.
Rob Isherwood, course lead for paramedic science at the University of Portsmouth, said: ‘Portsmouth is very lucky to have a higher than average number of defibrillators dotted across the city, 20 of those in university buildings with full public access, but very few people have been trained in how to use one.
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‘However, the UK has a poor track record of members of the public starting CPR and in the use of community-based defibrillators, which means that only about 10 per cent of people survive their cardiac arrest to being discharged from hospital.’
It is thought people who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital have a roughly one in 10 chance of survival, but if more people knew how to start CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and use a defibrillator, the odds would improve.
‘Currently no other university appears to be doing anything like this, and it’s early days, but we have big dreams that hundreds or even thousands of people in Portsmouth will be trained in the coming few months, potentially saving many lives,’ Mr Isherwood said.
In 2020, the average response time for an ambulance nationally was seven minutes.
Mr Isherwood said: ‘The survival rate for someone suffering a heart attack drops by 10 per cent a minute.
‘If more people knew how to use a defibrillator while waiting for the ambulance crew to arrive could very well save a life. Having these skills is truly valuable and anyone can learn.’
It comes as Scas is also planning to run a Facebook live CPR training session at 10am on the Friday.
Professor Charles Deakin, divisional medical director at Scas and lead for resuscitation, said: ‘Learning how to perform CPR before you need to use it and how to use a defibrillator – and where they are located in your area – will give someone the best chance of survival from cardiac arrest.
‘I would urge everyone to participate in our Facebook live event on Friday if they can because doing so will equip them with the information and skills they need to save lives.’
Senior cardiac nurse at the British Heart Foundation, Regina Giblin, added: ‘A cardiac arrest is a medical emergency. There are over 30,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrests every year in the UK and statistics show that for every minute that passes without CPR and defibrillation a person’s chance of survival decreases by around 10 per cent.
‘This is why knowing how to perform CPR and having defibrillators available to the public in moments of need, is essential.
‘At the BHF we encourage everyone to learn CPR skills and register any existing or new defibrillators with their local ambulance service, so that emergency responders can direct bystanders to their nearest one. When someone has a cardiac arrest, every second counts.’
The open event will run from 10.30am to 4pm on Friday, in Commercial Road.
‘Having the training not only gives you the skills but the confidence to help.’
A courageous man who saved a woman’s life by giving her CPR last year has welcomed plans for a public training session.
Carpenter John Hoskin from Crookhorn had picked up his son Harvey from school when he heard someone shout out for a first aider.
He rushed over to find a collapsed elderly woman who wasn’t breathing.
Having had CPR training through work a few years ago John was able to perform emergency chest compressions until paramedics arrived.
She was then taken to Queen Alexandra Hospital in an ambulance and later recovered.
Speaking to The News a year later John, now 45, said: ‘I had completed two first aid training courses at work about four years before. They told us it’s something worth learning and you’ll never forget it.
‘At the time I thought it’s something I’ll probably never have to use again and I thought there’s no way I’d remember all of it. But even after that time when I saw the woman it just kicked in and I was able to do it.
‘I think if I hadn’t gone to that first aid training the situation might have had a very different outcome. There were other people there who just walked past I think because they didn’t know what to do.
‘But having the training not only gives you the skills but the confidence to help, even though I was still very nervous.
‘Since then I’ve spoken to the woman and her family - I think she came out of hospital about a month later. They called me a hero, but I wasn’t a hero - I was just doing what I could.
‘She also came to my house to drop off a gift but it was at the start of the pandemic so she left it outside.
‘I would encourage everyone to get trained in CPR if they can - it’s something you’ll remember forever and it could save a life.
‘My son Harvey was with me at the time. When he’s older he will probably learn how to give CPR too.’