My son Danny was born with a serious heart condition, Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome. He has had three open heart surgeries and takes warfarin every day. We are lucky that he is doing well, in good health and leading an active life.
When we first took him home from hospital our health visitor did a "first aid at home" course with us to make sure we were confident to deliver baby first aid, especially resuscitation, in case it was ever needed.
I now have three more heart healthy children. I still keep up to date with my first aid certificate as if any thing did ever happen to any of them (and of course I hope that it won't) then I am able to give them the best chance possible.
I'd like to share a campaign with you to show how more lives can potentially be saved in the future:
Sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) is a condition in which the heart suddenly and unexpectedly stops beating. If this happens, blood stops flowing to the brain and other vital organs. SCA usually causes death if it's not treated within minutes.
Every week in the UK, 12 apparently fit and healthy young people aged 35 and under die from undiagnosed cardiac conditions.
Most deaths caused as a result of SCA are potentially avoidable by using Automated External Defibrillators (AEDs), therefore easy access to on site devices and prompt defibrillation has the potential to save lives.
It is estimated that there are around 100,000 deaths caused by SCA in the UK and Ireland each year compared to approximately 364 fire fatalities – bearing this in mind, why is access to a portable AED a rare possibility yet a fire extinguisher is almost always only at an arm’s distance away? Every minute that defibrillation is delayed the chance of survival decreases by around 7 to 10%.
· When Meeta Patel received a call from her 15-year old son Rahul’s school teacher during a routine a PE lesson, she expected it to be due to a bad fall or broken bone. Instead, she was told that he was in an Air Ambulance on the way to hospital.
· Coincidentally, Rahul was born with the same heart condition as Danny, however it's important to remember that SCA can happen to young people without diagnosed heart conditions too.
Rahul collapsed and lost consciousness due to SCA. Luckily the centre where he collapsed had received a defibrillator the week before the incident and effectively administered CPR and deployed the defibrillator. Meeta was told he had received three shocks on the premises and one in the ambulance. As it was their supplied defibrillator which saved his life, after the incident and Rahul’s recovery, BOC Healthcare gifted one to Rahul to donate to his school afterwards.
· Allowing time to make an emergency call, the ambulance journey time and the time taken to administer a shock, the delay from collapse to paramedic treatment is usually 13 to 14 minutes at best. After this length of time there is virtually no chance of survival.
· Awareness of SCA and access to the defibrillator, meant that Rahul has since made a full recovery, been fitted with a pacemaker and is living a normal life.
· Meeta, a pediatric nurse herself, is now sharing her son’s story and raising awareness of the fact that defibrillators save lives. She is campaigning to get a defibrillator into every school.
“I am just so grateful to everyone that saved my life and feel very lucky that the life-saving equipment was nearby when I needed it. I am proud of my mum for taking our family story and raising awareness of Sudden Cardiac Arrest. Now, I want to see more defibrillators available in public spaces so that all lives can be saved.”
Locally to me, we have at least seven defibrillators located in various places including our local sports centre and the Port Authority offices. I have received the training to use one and can reassure you that they are so simple to use. The machine talks you through the whole process and basically takes over the process. You do not need to receive training to use one but it is available if you prefer to receive training first. They are amazing pieces of lifesaving equipment.
IIdeally, we need more defibrillators in public spaces to save more lives. Pembrokeshire First Aid Training campaigned succesfully to get PADS at our local Town Hall and local shop. The Welsh Ambulance Service have more information and state that there are currently 250 locations across Wales. They also provide links to charities that can help with funding.
I I think that Meeta's idea of having a defibrillator in every school is fantastic and I would love to see them as common as fire extinguishers in the future. Our secondary school is a sports venue too so this would be such a practical idea.
Meeta is fighting to get her message to all councils and government offices to ensure that schools and then all public places must carry one – similar to fire extinguishers. Stats show sudden cardiac arrest is massively more prevalent and has much higher mortality rate associated than with fires but the public are not aware and the provision in public places does not reflect this. In her own words:
“There is a chance not everyone will be as lucky as we have been. Defibrillators do save lives, getting one on-site is what saves lives and lets them carry on – for them and their families”.
Do you know where your nearest defibrillator is located? Would you like to see PADs in every school?