What are your chances of surviving a cardiac arrest?

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Temp Falling 125x84Well in England it’s extremely low...


About 8.6% compared to Norway’s 25%. And on top of that worrying fact less than 10% of people in the UK survive a cardiac arrest and about 80% of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests occur in people's homes (not doctors surgeries, public areas or places of work).

So what is being done to improve those statistics?

And why are we still not making any improvements in that 8.6% survival rate by helping educate the people at home and/or raising awareness of the importance of learning everyday life-savings skills like resuscitation? Especially when so many attacks occur at home and away from resuscitation-trained medical environments.

Why people don't try CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation)

Evidence has shown us that there are many reasons why ordinary people in England are reluctant to have a go at resuscitation. To name but a few:

  • Failure to recognise cardiac arrest
  • Lack of knowledge of what o do (only 1 person in 10 in England has any underpinning knowledge of resuscitation)
  • Fear of causing harm
  • Fear of being sued
  • Lack of knowledge of the location of public access defibrillators

Knowing CPR could make a huge difference

How much more effective resuscitation would be if when someone calls 999 they had some up-to date knowledge about resuscitation. Not forgetting the skills and confidence to follow the ambulance service dispatchers advice until the arrival of the ambulance service.


Immediate resuscitation (CPR) will increase the chance of surviving a cardiac arrest for many people, even more so if the first aiders attending the scene had access to a defibrillator (automated external defibrillator, or 'AED').

Resuscitation, (CPR) increases the chances of surviving because it keeps some blood circulating to the heart and brain. It also increases the likelihood of the heart remaining in a “shockable rhythm” rather than a ‘non-shockable rhythm” (flat line).


Performing Resuscitation (CPR) promptly and effectively is therefore crucial until the arrival of a defibrillator if the person is to survive, and all AEDs give out full instructions on how to operate them, so all that is really needed is a bit of prior first aid knowledge and some confidence.

REMEMBER: “Some CPR is better than no CPR.”

In all more years as I paramedic I’ve lost count the number of times I have attended a cardiac arrest only to hear bystander’s, family, or relatives say: “If only had none what to do”.

So what's the answer?

Join me on Linkedin to debate and discuss this valuable topic. Clive on Linkedin >>


Additional information:

Consensus Paper on Out-of–Hospital Cardiac Arrest in England, 16th Oct 2014 (Resuscitations Council, NHS England, British Heart Foundation): Available to download in our publications section here >>

You might also like our A-Z of fist aid signs, symptoms and treatments. Find both CPR and Defibrillation there, along with many more useful topics.



First Response. Training for life. Training to save a life.

Last modified on Monday, 14 October 2019
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Clive Haddrell Cert Ed LIQA MSET

NHS Paramedic Tutor, NHS Ambulance Emergency Driving Tutor, FAETC 1&2, Cert/Ed, D32, D33, LIQA. Manual Handling Tutor (RoSPA) and Member of the Society for Education and Training. I have over thirty years experience with the former Avon Ambulance Service NHS Trust, and recently with Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust. My experience includes the role of paramedic tutor, rapid response motorcycle paramedic. For the last 25years paramedic advisor to the well-known BBC television program "Casualty".

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