Over a third of UK adults still haven’t learned CPR, warn leading health organisations

Healthcare organisations and ambulance services are urging the UK public to get hands on and learn CPR for Restart a Heart Day (16th October), in light of worrying research that shows that over a third (38%) of UK adults have never undertaken any form of training to learn essential CPR skills. These are the skills that saved footballer Christian Eriksen’s life in June, and could save the life of anyone in cardiac arrest – which could happen anywhere, to anyone, at any time.

The survey, carried out by YouGov, showed that 82% of UK adults were aware that Christian Eriksen experienced a cardiac arrest at the Euros this year. However, with CPR training rates remaining stubbornly low, the organisations behind Restart a Heart are asking everyone to feel inspired by the actions that saved Eriksen’s life and learn how to perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).

The annual event, which is in its eighth year, aims to train people in how to perform CPR, so they feel confident to act in an emergency. The campaign is led by Resuscitation Council UK, in partnership with St John Ambulance, the British Heart Foundation, British Red Cross and all UK ambulance services.

For every minute that a person in cardiac arrest doesn’t receive CPR and defibrillation, their chance of survival drops by up to 10% – so acting in an emergency is crucial. With most cardiac arrests happening at home, knowing CPR and being confident to act could save a loved one’s life.

People can learn CPR by attending local training events and by using online resources, which they can find at resus.org.uk/rsah. There are resources available in a range of languages, including Punjabi, Hindi, Arabic, Gujarati, Welsh, Polish, Chinese and Kurdish as well as in Makaton. Resources are also available for teachers to use with their students in lessons. People can also support the campaign and learn more about it on social media using the hashtag #RestartAHeart.

The organisations behind Restart a Heart are delighted that many sports clubs, associations, businesses, and community venues have acted following Eriksen’s arrest to train people in CPR and to install defibrillators. On and around Restart a Heart Day a number of football clubs, including Leeds United, Brentford FC, Hull City, Sheffield United, and Huddersfield Town will be holding CPR demonstrations at their grounds on match day, promoting the importance of CPR in match day programmes and during half time.

Yorkshire Ambulance Service has also worked with professional footballers in the region to produce a short video telling people the key steps to do CPR. Volunteers from St John Ambulance will also be running free CPR demonstrations in many locations across the UK, as will many other organisations who are supporting the campaign.

Nobody understands the importance of knowing CPR skills more than 13-year-old Henry Collett.

Henry, then 12, and his dad Jules, 56, were out on a walk near their home in West Yorkshire when Jules collapsed and stopped breathing.

Henry, who had learnt CPR previously, didn’t hesitate to spring into action. He called 999 immediately, started CPR and fetched a defibrillator after encouraging a passer-by to take over CPR. They were then joined by two Yorkshire Ambulance Service crews, a clinical supervisor and the Yorkshire Air Ambulance who took over the life-saving efforts.

Without Henry’s quick action, Jules may not have survived. Jules is thankful to his son for what he did, saying: “I’m incredibly proud of Henry. He kept his cool and did what he needed to do which is unbelievable in the circumstances and considering his age. He is an exceptional young man and I can’t thank him enough.”

Henry added: “CPR is so important to me because without it, my dad wouldn’t be here now. Everyone should learn CPR, as you never know when you might need to use it.”

Yorkshire Ambulance Service will present a bravery award to Henry at a special event on Friday 15 October when the family will also be reunited with some of the ambulance clinicians involved his life-saving attempt.

To learn more about Restart a Heart, visit  https://bit.ly/RSAHD21

Professor Andrew Lockey, consultant in emergency medicine and co-lead for World Restart a Heart, Resuscitation Council UK said:

Learning CPR has never been more important. When Christian Eriksen survived a sudden cardiac arrest at the Euros, he did so because those around him had the essential CPR skills that could save his life, and the confidence to act quickly when they realised what had happened to him. These are simple skills that everyone can do if they take the time to learn them.

Learn or refresh your skills today by attending a training event, watching our short animation on how to do CPR in the pandemic, or playing our digital training game, Lifesaver.

Dr Lynn Thomas, Medical Director at St John Ambulance, said:

St John Ambulance is determined to see the number of people with CPR and defibrillator knowledge in the UK grow and for bystanders to overcome any fear of assisting someone who has had a cardiac arrest. We are thrilled to be working with our partners in the Restart A Heart campaign once again and look forward to demonstrating to the public how easy and quick it is to pick up essential first aid skills which could potentially mean the difference between life and death.

Ask us about our many free online resources, training courses and face-to-face education via our skilled volunteers. We want to empower as many people as possible to save a life using simple yet vital skills.

Dr Charmaine Griffiths, Chief Executive of the British Heart Foundation, said:

CPR is a lifesaving skill which is quick and simple to learn, and you never know when you’ll need to use it or on who. Each year there are over 30,000 out of hospital cardiac arrests, but tragically the survival rate is currently less than one in 10 in the UK. This year millions of us saw how vitally important it is to know CPR when Christian Eriksen collapsed at the Euros – swift action in giving him CPR and using a defibrillator ultimately helped save his life. But not everybody is as fortunate, and that’s why we’re urging everyone to learn CPR to help improve survival rates and save lives.

Dafydd Beech, National Community Education Manager at the British Red Cross, said:

Christian Eriksen’s cardiac arrest at the Euros highlighted the importance of knowing lifesaving first aid skills, like CPR. While it’s concerning that one third of adults don’t know what to do if someone is unresponsive and not breathing, the good news is that first aid is quick and easy to learn, and anyone can do it. The British Red Cross has lots of free resources for learning first aid, including a first aid app, which you can find out more about by visiting redcross.org.uk/first-aid.

Anna Parry, Deputy Managing Director of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE), said:

Ambulance services are very proud to support Restart a Heart Day, a vital initiative that helps save thousands of lives each year by encouraging more people to learn the simple techniques that will enable them to perform CPR if someone suddenly goes into cardiac arrest.

Many ambulance services undertake CPR training in schools and community centres across the UK, with the help of hundreds of volunteers, mostly off-duty staff and community first responders.

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