Would you know what to do, if you saw someone collapse in the street? Could you be the person who could give them the best chance of survival?

If you feel like you wouldn’t have a clue how you’d handle that situation, you are not alone. The Resuscitation Council reports that there are around 30,000 cardiac arrests each year that take place out of hospital, in the UK. The average survival rate of these cardiac arrests in the UK is 8.6%. When you compare it to places like Seattle (20% survival rate) and Norway (25% survival rate), it’s clear that we need to find ways to increase survival rates in the UK.

In the UK, we have a 43% rate of bystanders giving CPR, while in Norway there is a 73% rate of bystanders giving CPR. It’s clear that those bystanders able to start CPR immediately (rather than calling for an ambulance and then being instructed to do so) increase the chances of the person’s survival.

When someone has a cardiac arrest, for every minute that goes by without CPR and defibrillation (we’ll cover defibrillation in the next blog) their chances of survival drops by between 7-10%.

That’s a worrying statistic. In the UK, we struggle to recognise the signs of a cardiac arrest and then we don’t recognise what to do. Our lack of knowledge or fear of doing something wrong could lead to someone’s chances of survival dropping dramatically.

This handy chain of survival shows the ways in which we all need to act, in order to ensure that someone has the maximum chances of survival when having a cardiac arrest.


It’s clear, that in the UK, we need to do more to educate ourselves on the best way to handle a situation where someone is having a cardiac arrest. That’s where Restart a Heart Day comes in. All kinds of life saving organisations (British Heart Foundation, St John Ambulance, Red Cross, Ambulance trusts) come together to teach people CPR. It doesn’t take long and taking those few minutes to learn this technique could really help to save someone’s life.

On the 12th October, our team of Paramedics, along with some Community First Responders will be in the library concourse willing to teach anyone who asks CPR. Take a minute to drop by and learn this life saving skill.

In the meantime, here’s a handy step by step guide on how to do CPR, along with a brilliant video from Vinnie Jones.

Step by Step CPR (taken from the British Heart Foundation website – https://www.bhf.org.uk/heart-health/how-to-save-a-life/how-to-do-cpr

So, what do you do if you see someone become unconscious?

Step 1: Check
Check for danger – don’t put yourself at risk, make sure it’s safe for you to approach the person
Check for a response – Shake the person and speak loudly, asking “are you alright? Can you hear me?”
Shout for help – You may need someone to help you, by either phoning for help or fetching equipment nearby. Ask people to stay with you.
Step 2: Open their airway
Tilt their head back, by placing one hand on their forehead and 2 fingers under their chin
Step 3: Check for breathing
Listen to see if you can hear them breathing, or feel your breath on their cheek, look for their chest moving
Step 3: Call 999
If the person is not breathing, call 999 and ask for an ambulance. If you have someone with you, ask them to do it.
If you have someone with you, they may be sent to collect a defibrillator, your ambulance operator should be able to tell you if there is one nearby.
Step 4: Start Chest compressions
Kneel beside the person. Place the heel of your non dominant hand in the centre of their chest and place your dominant hand on top, locking your fingers together.
Keep your arms straight and use the heel of your hand to push down 5-6cm on the breastbone. These should could be quite fast, managing around 2 compressions per second.
Give 30 of these compressions
Step 5: Give rescue breaths
Make sure the airway is open (as in step 2). Pinch the person’s nose, take a breath, place your mouth around theirs, creating a seal and breath out normally. You should see their chest rise and fall. Do this twice.

Repeat steps 4 and 5 until either:

• Professional help arrives
• The person begins to show signs of regaining consciousness
• Or you become exhausted.

If you’d rather not give rescue breaths, then do hands only CPR, watch Vinnie Jones demonstrate here:

Vinnie Jones/British Heart Foundation CPR:


Statistics taken from the Resuscitation Council UK Consensus Paper:

Statistics taken from the Resuscitation Council UK Consensus Paper: https://www.resus.org.uk/publications/consensus-paper-on-out-of-hospital-cardiac-arrest-in-England/

Nikki Legg & Claire Horsfield