Cardiac arrest survival rates have increased dramatically in the Borders, thanks to a partnership approach being taken in the region.
Two years on from public defibrillators being placed in communities across the region, cardiopulmonary resuscitation training being given and local fire and rescue crews responding to out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in support of the Scottish Ambulance Service, the survival rate in the region has risen to 29%, one of the highest in Scotland.
Prior to March 2015, the survival rate from out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in the area was just 4%, well below the Scottish average of 7-10%.
The partnership of Scottish Ambulance Service, NHS Borders, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Borders Council and local charities Avril’s Trust, Scottish HART (Heart At Risk Testing) and Kelso Heartbeat has seen 10,000 people being trained in CPR over the past five years.
Training has taken place in primary and secondary schools, community groups and sports clubs.
NHS Borders’ resuscitation officer, Rod McIntosh, said: “To assist with this initiative, in 2014 NHS Borders gifted 50 defibrillators to Scottish HART for use across our region, as well as two defibrillators to Borders College, who committed to provide their staff and students with CPR training.
“Since then, NHS Borders has continued to work closely with partner organisations to deliver training and raise awareness of defibrillators in the community. We are delighted to see that this collaborative working is delivering positive results and saving lives.”
Murray McEwan, of the Scottish Ambulance Service, said: “By increasing the amount of public access defibrillators, this initiative enhances the chances of survival for a patient suffering an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest.
“By registering a public-access defibrillator, the Scottish Ambulance Service will look to provide life-saving instructions as well as advise members of the community on how to use the nearest available defibrillator.”
David Farries, of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, added: “We are delighted to have been involved in this collaborative approach.
“We are extremely active across the country, providing CPR instruction from all of our community fire stations and also providing an enhanced operational response to out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in support of the Scottish Ambulance Service in selected areas including the Borders.”
Jim Fraser, the council’s emergency planning officer, concluded: “Over the past few years, Scottish Borders Council has provided grant funding of approximately £20,000 from various funding streams for defibrillators, cabinets and training to local communities and resilient communities groups throughout the Scottish Borders.
“We would encourage those who have public-access defibrillators to register them with the Scottish Ambulance Service and CrowdSav. Doing so could save a life.”
The partners are now appealing to communities or groups considering buying an automated external defibrillator to check new guidance available at www.scotborders.gov.uk/defibguidance.
In order to raise awareness of defibrillators in the local community, anyone who is currently responsible for an AED is asked to register it with pad.scottishambulance.com and www.crowdsav.com