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Cardiac arrest survivor backs drive to put CPR at heart of lifesaving

Cardiac arrest survivor backs drive to put CPR at heart of lifesaving

Gregor Newton feels very lucky to be alive.

The 45-year-old knows that if a remarkable series of events had not been in his favour, he may not be here to re-tell his story.

In June 2014, on an ordinary Saturday, the father-of-two had a cardiac arrest in his East Lothian home with his wife Judy and two children Eilidh and Harry nearby.

“I wasn't feeling the greatest but I put that down to the cold or flu,” Gregor said.

“It was instant. I was walking up the stairs and the next thing I remember is waking up with a lot of people around me.

“I had walked up the stairs and fallen on a wooden floor. I collapsed there and then.

“My son heard me and came up the stairs but, by that point, I was probably very close to death.”

CPR is a crucial part of the 'chain of survival' which includes calling 999 and using a defibrillator if there is one available.

Judy, a trained nurse, began CPR promptly while Eilidh called an ambulance before running across the road to a nearby hotel where she spoke to two of the hotel guests, also trained in CPR, who rushed to assist.

“They were trained as well so they came in and helped with the CPR until the first responder attended with the defibrillator,” Gregor said.

“The two people with training weren't meant to be in the hotel that night but they couldn't get into the town they wanted to be staying in and so ended up in a hotel across the road from us.

The good fortune did not end there. It turned out that the local first responder was close by because he had just attended another call.

“There were all these things that went into place that put the luck into it.," Gregor said.

Gregor and the Newton family are just some of the people backing a new campaign called Save a Life For Scotland which launches on Restart a Heart Day today.

via STV via STV

Every year, over 3500 people around Scotland are treated by the Scottish Ambulance Service after having a cardiac arrest. Of this number, only around one in 20 people will survive.

A new national strategy for out of hospital cardiac arrest is also being launched as part of the campaign.

It aims to boost survival rates by 10% across the country within five years. If the strategy is successful, this would mean a total of 1000 additional lives would be saved by 2020.

via STV via STV

Bystander CPR

To help achieve this goal, the new campaign aims to train an additional half a million people in Scotland with bystander CPR by 2020.

This is a skill Dr Gareth Clegg says is the cornerstone of improving outcomes because prompt bystander CPR can increase the likelihood of survival after an out of hospital cardiac arrest by two or three times.

Leading the Resuscitation Research Group at the University of Edinburgh, the senior lecturer and honorary consultant at the emergency department at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh says progress in Edinburgh, where one in five survive an out of hospital cardiac arrest, shows that a joined up approach with an emphasis on bystander CPR can go some way to improving statistics.

“The best cities in the world will get about one in four patients home after cardiac arrests,” Dr Clegg explains.

“Scotland currently gets around one in 20 patients home after a cardiac arrests.

“We have been working on this in Edinburgh now for a few years. Currently, the go home survival rate [in Edinburgh] is 18% - almost one in five get home in Edinburgh - compared to one in 20 in the rest of the country.

"What that says to me is that it is possible to do this in Scotland.

"We just need to take what it is already happening in some parts of the world, including Edinburgh, and roll it out in a co-ordinated way across the country.

"That's what Save a Life For Scotland is about.”

The 'Big Launch' will take place on Edinburgh's Mound on October 16, with a number of other events planned across Scotland which are all encouraging people to sign up to learn CPR.

“There are a series of organisations that currently already do CPR training,” Dr Clegg said. “As part of Save a Life For Scotland, we want to be an aggregator for that so we can signpost people to where they can learn.

“People can go to the website and that will point [them] toward CPR training in their area.

“I think there's a real opportunity in Scotland now to make a huge difference and save hundreds of lives over the next few years.

“It is not a hopeless situation. Just using your own two hands and doing CPR, you can save a life.”

via STV via STV

Looking back, Gregor says he realises how lucky he was to have so much support on hand so quickly.

"I never thought anything would happen to me. I was fit and healthy" he said.

"But I was in a position that I couldn't get myself out of without interventions by outside people who were my wife and bystanders who were nearby.

“Looking back on it now, I realise how lucky I am to still be here. There was a lot of luck involved in our situation with people in places they needed to be.

“I had no knowledge of what a cardiac arrest was until I had one. I had no knowledge of defibrillators until I needed one.

“It is quite humbling to realise how many people were involved.”

To find out more about learning CPR in Scotland, visit the Save a Life For Scotland website.

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