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Does an ambulance really make a difference in the event of a Sudden Cardiac Arrest?

Published on 26th June 2018

Sudden Cardiac Arrest is a major cause of death every year in the UK. The unfortunate nature of SCA is its ability to strike anybody at any time. It doesn’t favour the old, unfit and unhealthy. There are roughly 15 young people every week who die from SCA, the need for more informed public awareness and what to do in the situation of SCA is vital to reducing the fatalities.

The swift nature of SCA causes the high number of fatalities. Even if you are 5 minutes from your nearest hospital, unfortunately, chances are you still won’t be close enough to receive effective treatment for sudden cardiac arrest. Every minute without treatment reduces the chance of survival by 10%. By the time you’ve rung, and the ambulance has arrived, chances are it’s too late. On average in the UK, only 7% of victims of sudden cardiac arrest survive.

UK Ambulance services are expected to reach 75% of Red 1 calls within 8 minutes, on average, the response time is 11 minutes. You do the maths, 10% survival chance reduced every minute without treatment doesn’t bare well. Defibrillation is the only proven method to help increase the chances of survival, so much so that if one is used within the first 60 seconds, the chances of survival increase from 7% to over 90%.

Chew Valley nicknamed ‘Death Valley’ in northern Somerset, is the UK’s least accessible area, leading to emergency service response times be the longest in the country. With multiple patients having to wait up to 5 times the average response time for medical treatment. In one case, an elderly individual was left for three hours with no treatment. When it comes to Sudden Cardiac Arrest, the speed and effectiveness of the treatment is key, waiting for more than a matter of minutes will be fatal.

Thankfully, AEDs are becoming more readily accessible to the public, located at leisure centres, schools, libraries, town halls and many more places. Unfortunately, however, the survival rates are still far below what they should be at. To name just a few nations, the USA, Norway & Holland have dramatically higher survival rates. 65% of the time, an AED has been used on a victim before the emergency services have even arrived.

Knowing where your local defibrillator is the difference between life and death. Find out where your nearest defibrillator is, how to access it and ensure it works.