In Scotland this month 575 people will die from a cardiac arrest. The vast majority of these victims unfortunately will die before they reach the hospital.

Cardiac arrest can affect anyone at any time so defibrillators and effective CPR can make a difference in improving survival rates for people who suffer a cardiac arrest outside of a hospital.


Did you know…

  • Less than 2% will receive life-saving defibrillation before the ambulance arrives.
  • Less than 40% of UK victims receive bystander CPR (cardio-pulmonary resuscitation).
  • Ambulance services respond to approximately 60,000 community cases of suspected cardiac arrest annually (UK).
  • Resuscitation is only attempted by ambulance crews in less than 50% of these victims, 50% are already dead.
  • Less than 10% of victims survive to be discharged from hospital in the UK compared to 20-25% in other countries where there is greater public awareness, CPR training and provision of public access automated external defibrillators (AED).

In Japan, the government has promoted a large-scale campaign for CPR training and public access defibrillation, including:

  • Active promotion of the safety of the public using defibrillators
  • The number of public access defibrillators has increased from 10,961 to 428,821 (2005- 2013)
  • The percentage of patients receiving shocks from public access defibrillators increased from 1.1% in 2005 to 16.5% in 2013.

In Japan there are approximately 1 public access defibrillators per 300 people compared to 1 public access defibrillators per 7000 people in the UK and 1 per 10,000 in Scotland.

This guidelines from the 2015 UK Resuscitation Council website for adult basic life support and AED are informative and contain easy emergency steps to follow.

The 5 main actions required to improving UK survival from community cardiac arrests are:

  1. All school children taught CPR and how to use an AED
  2. All people who are able should be taught CPR
  3. Widespread placement of public access defibrillators
  4. Defibrillators should all be nationally registered online
  5. Ambulance service can deploy the nearest available defibrillator to the scene




One way to reduce the amount of deaths and increase the survival rate of people having a cardiac arrest is to have more defibrillators (AEDs) available in the community.  However, it is not just enough to have these available, the public need to know how to use them and perform CPR until the device arrives



Would you know how to give CPR to someone in cardiac arrest?  If not, you need to train, so you are comfortable and prepared if the unfortunate situation arises. Here are 5 steps to perform hands-only CPR from the NHS:

To carry out a chest compression:

1. Place the heel of your hand on the breastbone at the centre of the person’s chest. Place your other hand on top of your first hand and interlock your fingers.


2. Position yourself with your shoulders above your hands.


3. Using your body weight (not just your arms), press straight down by 5-6cm (2-2.5 inches) on their chest.


4. Keeping your hands on their chest, release the compression and allow the chest to return to its original position.


5. Repeat these compressions at a rate of 100 to 120 times per minute until an ambulance arrives or you become exhausted.



When someone has a cardiac arrest the minutes before help (ambulance) arrives can be crucial to the survival of the patient.

If there is a defibrillator (AED) available, you need to use it. You don’t have to be trained to use the AED, the device will tell you if the patient needs to be shocked.



Here are some steps of guidance to use a device (please note: the machine analyses someone’s heart rhythm and then uses visual or voice prompts to guide you through each step):


1. First, make sure someone has called for an ambulance, and, if an AED isn’t immediately available, give CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) until someone can bring you an AED.


2. As soon as you’ve got an AED, switch it on. It will immediately start to give you a series of visual and verbal prompts informing you of what you need to do. Follow these prompts until the ambulance arrives or someone with more experience than you take over.


3. Take the pads out of the sealed pack. Remove or cut through any clothing and wipe away any sweat from the chest.


4. Remove the backing paper and attach the pads to their chest.


5. Place the first pad on their upper right side, just below their collarbone as shown on the pad.


6. Then place the second pad on their left side, just below the armpit. Make sure you position the pad lengthways, with the long side in line with the length of their body.


7. Once you’ve done this, the AED will start checking the heart rhythm. Make sure that no-one is touching the person. Continue to follow the voice and/or visual prompts that the machine gives you until help arrives.