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Every week in Scotland 70 people will have a sudden unexpected cardiac arrest. That's a little more than the number of people on a full double decker bus. It can happen to anyone. Any age. Any time. Currently only 4 of these 70 people will survive to go home to their families.

What is a cardiac arrest?

Cardiac arrest means the heart has stopped beating. No blood is flowing to the brain and other vital organs and without immediate action death occurs in a few minutes.  The great news is that we can do something about this: CPR

What is CPR?

Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, or CPR, is an emergency procedure in which a person presses up and down  on the casualty’s chest (chest compressions) and gives them a series of rescue breaths to help save their life when they are in cardiac arrest.

CPR is a procedure that should only be used when someone is unconscious and not breathing – or not breathing – normally. If someone is unconscious but they are breathing normally, you still need to call 999 and then put them in the recovery position.

What are the statistics?

Every year around 3,500 Scottish people of all ages and backgrounds have resuscitation attempted after their heart stops suddenly and unexpectedly - they suffer a cardiac arrest. Currently only 1 in 20 survive. In areas of the world where bystander CPR is the norm, up to 20% of people go home alive after cardiac arrest. Bystander CPR means that the person who is beside the person who has had a cardiac arrest pushes hard and fast on their chest until help arrives from the Ambulance service. If you don’t do CPR then the chances of that person surviving drop by 10% with every minute that passes.

What is Save a Life for Scotland?

Save a Life for Scotland launched in October 2015 and is a collaboration of emergency services (Scottish Ambulance Service, Scottish Fire and Rescue Services, Medical Defence Services and Police Scotland), third sector organisations (The British Heart Foundation including Heartstart, Chest Heart and Stroke Scotland, Royal Life Saving Society Scotland, St Andrew’s First Aid, British Red Cross , Trossachs Search and Rescue and Lucky 2 B Here), community groups, local authorities, academics, industry partners and the Scottish Government.

Effective CPR can be taught in less than 20 minutes, so it doesn’t really take long at all to learn how to help save someone’s life.

People have understandable fears or concerns about doing CPR but here is some help to ‘bust the myths’.

Why does it matter to my community?

The general assumption is that if you are going to use CPR, it will be to help a stranger, but the truth is you are much more likely to need it for a loved one, a friend or family member as research shows that the most cardiac arrests happen in the home. Cardiac arrests are more common in areas of multiple deprivation and that those who live in those areas are least likely to be trained in CPR

Recognising someone is having a cardiac arrest, calling 999 and starting CPR as soon as possible really can increase the chance of that person surviving.

There is lots of CPR training going on in communities across Scotland. Every fire station in Scotland also holds equipment from The British Heart Foundation that is free for you to access. The Save a Life website has a postcode search which provides local contacts. They can also support schools to teach their pupils CPR. Find out more on their resources page.